On Dec. 9, the Board of Oil and Gas Conservation canceled a scheduled public comment hearing on Energy Corporations of America’s oil well planned along the Beartooth Front. Because of their decision, affected landowners and concerned Montanans had no opportunity to officially voice their concerns about its development.
The BOGC’s repression of citizens’ voices indicates that the loyalty of the Board may lie with the industry. Given the BOGC’s membership is comprised of three representatives of the oil and gas industry, one landowner with mineral rights, one landowner without mineral rights, one from the public and one attorney, it’s clear the industry holds a majority over any other group impacted by oil and gas development.
Because of the oil and gas industries’ overwhelming representation on the BOGC, it’s not surprising they acquiesced to ECA’s last-minute demand to deny Northern Plains Resource Council and Carbon County Resource Council comments because, although ECA and the BOGC had timely received the complete file, a certificate of delivery had been not included. When this was brought to the councils’ attention, and the valid certificate being promptly provided, it’s also not surprising that the board refused to accept it and allow the public comment hearing to proceed.
Apparently, the board is against hearing Montanans’ concerns and in favor of ECA’s chief executive officer’s publicly stated goal that he “would love to bring something like the Bakken … to the area in the Big Horns and other areas in Montana.”