Saturday, January 20, 2018

Citizen input is critical to good rule making process

I sincerely hope that the Montana Board of Oil and Gas will decide to begin rule making on setback requirements on Wednesday, June 24. Setback requirements restrict oil and gas wells from being placed too close to residences or water sources, in order to strike an equitable balance between development and landowner protections.
Currently, Montana has no setback requirements on private land. In contrast, our neighboring states of Wyoming, North Dakota, and Colorado require a setback of 500 feet between an oil and gas well and residences. On federal land, the Bureau of Land Management prohibits oil and gas development within a quarter mile (1,320 feet) of an occupied dwelling.
Why are setbacks necessary? First, split estate situations are common throughout the West — one person owns the mineral rights and another owns the surface land. Thus, residents may have no say about oil and gas development on their land. Montanans should not have to hire a lawyer to protect their land.
Secondly, studies have shown that the safest distance between a home and an oil well is a quarter mile. Negative impacts from oil rigs include noise and light pollution, harmful emissions such as methane or diesel fumes, truck traffic, and water contamination.
Please make your voice heard in the BOGC’s rule making process, because only with citizen input can we find a Montana solution that adequately protects landowners. You can attend the public meeting at 1 pm, June 24 or make comments online at www.mtbogc.bubbly.com.

Cindy Webber
Big Timber