Blackfeet stand to gain from oil and gas resources

2012-07-16T09:30:00Z 2014-10-03T14:27:16Z Blackfeet stand to gain from oil and gas resourcesGuest column by BRENT TEMMER missoulian.com
July 16, 2012 9:30 am  • 

Tristan Scott’s June 30 story on the Blackfeet women opposed to oil and gas exploration (“Blackfeet women join together to oppose oil, gas ‘fracking,’ ” ) raises important questions about energy development on the Blackfeet Reservation.

Activist groups have used misinformation and sensationalism to advance anti-energy agendas effectively all across the country. These tactics fail to tell the whole story the public needs and deserves. Please consider the following:

We understand that we are working on lands of tremendous significance to Native Americans, as well as to those who enjoy the national forest and Glacier National Park nearby. That knowledge drives us to be even more keenly aware of our activities.

Anschutz Exploration Corporation is applying the latest technologies and practices to assure our wells are drilled and completed properly. Our exploration testing complies with the many layers of regulation that govern our activities, and we manage environmental impact and land disturbance proactively at every well site.

Contrary to a claim in the story, we understand the need to manage and preserve cultural resources as part of the energy-exploration process. Tribal Cultural Monitors observe every field activity related to oil and gas exploration. Further, Anschutz recently joined in signing a Memorandum of Agreement with the Blackfeet Tribe and the Bureau of Indian Affairs that provides for more effective oversight and management of cultural resources. This agreement supports advanced training of Cultural Monitors, education for primary-school students, and effective strategies for preventing adverse effects on historic and cultural sites.

Scott’s claim that as much as 70 percent of hydraulic-fracturing chemicals “remain underground where they can contaminate local water sources,” is not the whole story. The volume of water and associated chemicals that returns to the surface differs for each formation and fracturing treatment. Flowback recovery, as a percentage of the volume injected, varies from 15 percent to 100 percent. The fracturing fluid that returns to the surface is monitored and collected. Fluids are disposed of, or treated and recycled. Just as drilling fluids and hydrocarbons are isolated from groundwater sources via multiple steel casings and cement sheaths, so too are the fluids produced during flowback operations.

Modern oil and gas wells are encased in multiple layers of cement and steel that isolate them from non-producing rock formations and groundwater. It is important to note that target reserves of oil and gas on Blackfeet land are deeper underground than aquifers tapped for domestic and agricultural water supplies. They are separated by impervious rock layers that make contamination improbable, if not impossible. Anschutz, the Tribe and regulators regularly test water wells near our operations. There has been no incidence of water contamination related to oil and gas drilling or well completion.

The Blackfeet Nation has experienced increased employment and income from lease payments as a result of oil and gas operations on the reservation. It is a long and slow process to apply appropriate technology to such a vast area to unlock its subsurface mineral wealth. In the years to come, and with continued investment, the Blackfeet people stand to benefit substantially from the oil and gas resources on their land. Job growth and economic improvement as a result of energy exploration could mean welcome relief from underemployment. Anschutz pledges to perform responsible energy exploration. Further, we remain ready to inform the tribe and the public about our efforts to manage environmental and cultural impacts.

Brent Temmer is director of communications and public outreach for the Anschutz Exploration Corporation, and writes from Denver.

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(8) Comments

  1. Hephaestus
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    Hephaestus - July 26, 2012 9:31 am
    Temmer: "There has been no incidence of water contamination related to oil and gas drilling or well completion."

    "Over 50 years of oil production in the East Poplar oil field, north east of the City of Poplar on the Fort Peck Indian Reservation has produced millions of barrels of brine byproduct primarily from the Charles Formation of the Madison Group. The brine which contains 47,700 to 201,000 mg/L dissolved solids, was placed in storage or evaporation pits or injected into subsurface units through injection wells. Methods of disposal and handling of the brine has resulted in widespread contamination of not only the unconsolidated Quaternary aquifers, but also the Poplar River." (Source: http://www.fortpeckoep.org/activities_east_poplar/project_3.html0
  2. Hephaestus
    Report Abuse
    Hephaestus - July 26, 2012 9:00 am
    The author claimed the following: "There has been no incidence of water contamination related to oil and gas drilling or well completion."

    This is, predictably, a complete lie. I quote from the draft version of the EPA's investigation of contamination in Pavillion, WY:

    "The objective of this investigation was to determine the presence of ground water contamination in the Wind River Formation above the Pavillion gas field and to the extent possible, identify the source of contamination. The combined use of shallow and deep monitoring wells allowed differentiation between shallow sources of contamination (pits) and deep sources of contamination (production wells). Additional investigation is necessary to determine the areal and vertical extent of shallow and deep ground water contamination.

    Detection of high concentrations of benzene, xylenes, gasoline range organics, diesel range organics, and total purgeable hydrocarbons in ground water samples from shallow monitoring wells near pits indicates that pits are a source of shallow ground water contamination in the area of investigation... Although some natural migration of gas would be expected above a gas field such as Pavillion, data suggest that enhanced migration of gas has occurred to ground water at depths used for domestic water supply and to domestic wells... Finally, citizens' complaints of taste and odor problems concurrent or after hydraulic fracturing are internally consistent. Citizens' complaints often serve as the first indication
    of subsurface contamination and cannot be dismissed without further detailed evaluation, particularly in the absence of routine ground water monitoring prior to and during gas production. An alternate explanation provided and considered by EPA is that other residents in the Pavillion area have always had gas in their wells. Unfortunately, no baseline data exists to verify past levels of gas flux to the surface or domestic wells."

    At the end of the day, Temmer is the minister of propaganda for a large corporation that stands to gain from these oil endeavors. The Blackfeet people do not have anything to gain from drilling in the Glacier region except pollution, destruction of the land, and the sacrifice of future generations.
  3. Being Kind
    Report Abuse
    Being Kind - July 18, 2012 10:05 am
    I was appreciating Brent’s article and the details of what steps Anshutz is taking until I ran across the above comment by “Dub.” I only hope that Anshutz and Brent do not share the discriminatory and ignorant views that Dub has towards Native Americans. To describe us “as wards of the government” clearly illustrates that you have been undereducated – read up on Native American Indian Agreements and Treaties to understand why the government owes more to Native Americans than what they have paid to date. Please explain to me this “financial safety net” Native Americans have? I would like to hear what you think that is, and what that has to do with anything?
    “They will keep pushing until Anschutz pulls out then cry racism. Good luck but you have a steep hill to climb but there is a figure that will make things better.”

    Are you suggesting there is a financial figure $$ that will make things better? Can you please explain your last sentence in detail?

    Dub, I feel like your response to this article just undermined what Brent was trying to accomplish. I hope you are not affiliated with the Anshutz. Please do not delete your comment – I have already taken screen shots so it might as well stay.
  4. Being Kind
    Report Abuse
    Being Kind - July 18, 2012 9:46 am
    I was appreciating Brent’s article and the details of what steps Anshutz is taking until I ran across the above comment by “Dub.” I only hope that Anshutz and Brent do not share the discriminatory and ignorant views that Dub has towards Native Americans. To describe us “as wards of the government” clearly illustrates that you have been under educated – read up on Native American Indian Agreements and Treaties to understand why the government owes more to Native Americans than what they have paid to date. Please explain to me this “financial safety net” Native Americans have? I would like to hear what you think that is, and what that has to do with anything?
    “They will keep pushing until Anschutz pulls out then cry racism. Good luck but you have a steep hill to climb but there is a figure that will make things better.”

    Are you suggesting there is a financial figure $$ that will make things better? Can you please explain your last sentence in detail?

    Dub, I feel like your response to this article just undermined what Brent was trying to accomplish. I hope you are not affiliated with the Anshutz. Please do not delete your comment – I have already taken screen shots so it might as well stay.
  5. Being Kind
    Report Abuse
    Being Kind - July 18, 2012 9:37 am
    I was appreciating Brent’s article and the details of what steps Anschutz is taking until I ran across the above comment by “Dub.” I only hope that Anschutz and Brent do not share the discriminatory and ignorant views that Dub has towards Native Americans, and that Dub is not an employee. To describe us “as wards of the government” clearly illustrates that you have been under educated – read up on Native American Indian Agreements and Treaties to understand why the government owes more to Native Americans than what they have paid to date. Please explain to me this “financial safety net” Native Americans have? I would like to hear what you think that is, and what that has to do with anything? “They will keep pushing until Anschutz pulls out then cry racism. Good luck but you have a steep hill to climb but there is a figure that will make things better.” Are you suggesting there is a financial figure $$ that will make things better? Can you please explain your last sentence in detail? Are you suggesting Anschutz pay people to be quiet and go away? Dub, I feel like your response to this article just undermined what Brent was trying to accomplish. Please do not delete your comment – I have already taken screen shots so it might as well stay. I look forward to your response.
  6. Being Kind
    Report Abuse
    Being Kind - July 18, 2012 9:36 am
    I was appreciating Brent’s article and the details of what steps Anschutz is taking until I ran across the above comment by “Dub.” I only hope that Anschutz and Brent do not share the discriminatory and ignorant views that Dub has towards Native Americans, and that Dub is not an employee. To describe us “as wards of the government” clearly illustrates that you have been under educated – read up on Native American Indian Agreements and Treaties to understand why the government owes more to Native Americans than what they have paid to date. Please explain to me this “financial safety net” Native Americans have? I would like to hear what you think that is, and what that has to do with anything?

    “They will keep pushing until Anschutz pulls out then cry racism. Good luck but you have a steep hill to climb but there is a figure that will make things better.”

    Are you suggesting there is a financial figure $$ that will make things better? Can you please explain your last sentence in detail? Are you suggesting Anschutz pay people to be quiet and go away?

    Dub, I feel like your response to this article just undermined what Brent was trying to accomplish. Please do not delete your comment – I have already taken screen shots so it might as well stay. I look forward to your response.
  7. Dub
    Report Abuse
    Dub - July 16, 2012 10:20 am
    Well stated Brent. Hard to deal with people that have been a ward of the government for so many years and always had a safety net in case they get in financial trouble. They will keep pushing until Anschutz pulls out then cry racism. Good luck but you have a steep hill to climb but there is a figure that will make things better.
  8. The_Boneshackler
    Report Abuse
    The_Boneshackler - July 16, 2012 9:57 am
    I am sure that yout operations are just as safe as BP's Deepwater Horizon operation was. At least the taxpayers will always be there to clean up the mess that is left behind.
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