MT Board of Oil & Gas Votes to Conceal Fracking Fluids

by jhwygirl

Siding with industry, Montana’s Board of Oil & Gas unanimously approved rules which permit industry to keep secret fluids used in fracking wells.

Montana’s Board of Oil & Gas has regulatory and rule-making oversight. By law, 50% of its 6 members are from the oil & gas industry, two must be property owners “not actively associated with the oil & gas industry” yet one of those property owners must own both surface and mineral ownership (no self-serving interest there). One member must be a lawyer.

MTBOG had a full docket for today and tomorrow, but cleared things up right away regarding the oil & gas industry’s need to disclose the chemicals they are injecting into the ground – into the water tables of surface property owners who own the water rights.

“Keep ’em secret!” said the board.

Final approval for the rules rests with Secretary of State Linda McCulloch.

Here is an industry video on what fracking involves. That’s from Northern Oil & Gas, a major lease holder in the Bakken Reserves here in Montana. I’ve written a little here on fracking, but if you really want to read up on the good the bad and the ugly of fracking, it is necessary to check out The Editor at the Button Valley Bugle or the Northern Plains Resource Council or Montana Environmental Resource Center, both of which have excellent, Montana-specific information on fracking.

We have an industry and self-serving interest stacked board deciding rules on how to regulate itself.

Montana has regressed back to the days of the Copper Kings. That’s not an understatement. Even Wyoming recognized the need to require the industry to disclose its fracking fluids just this past year.
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Benzene causes cancer. That is a fact. Benzene is widely known to be used in fracking. That is a fact. Benzene has shown up in water wells near fracking wells across the nations. Undoubtedly you have all seen video of the water from faucets and water bottles that catch on fire merely when a flame is put to it. THAT is what fracking is capable of doing. With water.

With water that is actually a property right owned. Yet oil & gas industry can come in to get their minerals and destroy your water.

Destroy.

Water is life.

Really – Water Is Life. Think about water is to eastern Montana. Once there’s benzene in a water table, do you think it can be cleaned out? Do you think it stays where it is?

This kind of stuff defies plan common sense, I don’t care what political party you are.

(Somewhere I hear someone laughing – “Ha! But sense is not common and you know this, you fool!” and I hang my head knowing the truth of that property directed scorn.)

Our government is comprised of fools. Please write Secretary of State Linda McCulloch and tell her to delay approval of these rules until such time that they meet Montana’s constitutional guarantees for the public to open public disclosure. Until such time that the rules make a reasonable attempt to meet constitutional guarantees for Montana citizens to a clean and healthful environment.

The Northern Plains Resource Council’s press release is below the fold.

Board keeps fracking chemicals secret; landowners concerned

BILLINGS, Mont. — The Montana Board of Oil & Gas Conservation (BOGC) voted today [Wednesday, August 10, 2011] to finalize its rules on hydraulic fracturing disclosure. Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is a process where chemicals, water, and sand are injected into deep oil and gas wells in Montana to release the gas, which is pumped to the surface.

The seven members of the Board were unanimous in their decision Wednesday to keep the content of fracking chemicals from complete public disclosure.

Landowners in Sweet Grass County who are facing gas development and have mineral rights leased beneath or near their land are concerned about the rules that will go into effect August 26, if approved by the Secretary of State.

Cottonwood Resource Council Chair Cindy Webber attended the meeting where the rules were finalized.

“The draft rules that the Board may approve today set an important precedent in the way our state deals with oil and gas development,” she said in written testimony before the vote. “Unless the Board has substantially revised the rules, we believe they fall short of protecting water quality, public health, and landowner rights.

“Public disclosure should not be a controversial issue. Of the approximately 212 comments received during the public comment period, 192 are in favor of stronger rules that protect the public and our water supplies.”

Webber lives south of Big Timber on the Boulder River where mineral rights underneath the river have been leased.

In neighboring Wyoming, where similar disclosure rules were enacted in 2010, water contamination cases are being investigated in the towns of Pavillion and Clark. The EPA has found chemicals used in fracking in Pavillion water wells. Also, in Clark, natural gas and trace amounts of benzene, another fracking chemical, have been found in water wells.

Sally Owen-Still, a Sweet Grass County resident and Cottonwood Resource Council member, was disappointed in the decision by the Board.

“It seems sensible and logical if we’re concerned with the public health of our citizens that we know what is in the fracking chemicals and we are given notice so we can test our water. We are told by the oil and gas companies that this fracking process is safe. If this is indeed the case, why would they resist full public disclosure?”

Cottonwood Resource Council is the Sweet Grass County affiliate of Northern Plains Resource Council, a conservation and family agriculture group that works to protected Montana’s water, family farms and ranches, and unique quality of life.


  1. Pogue Mahone

    Good post. We need to know this.

  2. Excellent post–and a sad state of affairs.

    Thanks for this.

  3. lizard19

    message sent. ditto Pogue and Pogie.

  4. Carfreestupidity

    Sounds like a job for Anonymous or Wikileaks

  5. Turner

    Thanks for the post. I’ll contact McCulloch right away.

  6. MTsobro

    I’ve read the adopted rules and the underlying statute granting the Board rulemaking authority and I’m enitrely confused. Section 82-11-117(4) states the physical and chemical characteristics may not be considered confidential, but information disclosed that reveal methods or processes entitled to protection under trade secrets regulations may not be disclosed except in certain instances as provided for in the rule. Does this mean the chemicals used in fracking is public information, but the recipe protected?

    Also, a note of clarification on the rulemaking process. The SoS is the agency responsible for administering the Montana Administrative Procedures Act (MAPA), but has nothing to do with “final approval” as suggested by the author. The Board made its formal decision to adopt yesterday and will submit its intention to the SoS for publication in the MT Administrative Register. Presuming the Board followed the requirements of MAPA, this is a done deal. Based on the publication calendar, my guess would be the rules are final on August 25th.

  7. My children were needing CA SS-8572 a few weeks ago and discovered a document management site with an online forms library . If people are wanting CA SS-8572 too , here’s https://goo.gl/l19rWv.




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