The Billings Outpost

Weigh in on ‘navigable’

The long dreaded redefinition of the word “navigable” as applied to “Waters of the U.S. is finally upon us. The deadline for comment is this coming Friday, November 14 at 11:59 p.m. The Washington DC Environmental Protection Agency office will be receiving phone calls at (202) 566-2428 and emails at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Claims of mud puddles, rain barrels, and seasonal drainage ditches falling under the rules and regulations of the federal government are not far-fetched. EPA has achieved the label of “mission creep” as it seeks to expand its jurisdiction over the nation’s waters. Not only are they confusing the term “navigable” but are seeking the science to claim connectivity between subsurface aquifers, wetlands and free-flowing streams. In their eagerness to gain control over “all” of this water they have violated state and federal constitutions and over-reached or bypassed congressional oversight.  Consequences would be extensive inflicting prohibitive economic costs onto private citizens and small businesses with ever more restrictions, ongoing inspections, monitoring and reporting demands. Water management and storage may become limited or prohibited impacting livestock and irrigation operations leading to increased food costs. Use of chemicals and fertilizers will be restricted not only for farm/ranch operations, but also for landscaping. All citizens will be impacted and need to take the time now to send in their comments opposing the proposed rule on “Definition of Waters of the United States Under the Clean Water Act,” Docket No. EPA-HQ-OW-2011-0880.

Clarice Ryan


Last Updated on Thursday, 13 November 2014 09:30

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More drilling testing needed

Although oil and gas companies would have you believe otherwise, the regulations they must follow while drilling do not protect landowners and their water supplies from contamination. They don’t even come close. The Energy Corp. of America has plans to “bring something like the Bakken” to the Beartooths. They’ve already begun the drilling process, and wells on private property are not being protected.

Right now, the best option for protecting private water supplies is for each landowner to pay hundreds of dollars for baseline testing of wells to show what chemicals are present in the water before drilling begins. Landowners must then pay to have wells retested on a regular basis (possibly for years) to learn if water has been contaminated.

And that is not enough. Oil companies don’t have to disclose what chemicals they use in fracking because the law protects that information as “trade secrets.” So even if testing shows contamination by a certain chemical, there is no way to prove the oil company used that particular chemical in the drilling process.

The oil and gas industry likes to say that fracking has never caused water contamination. That just isn’t true. Look at any news source out of North Dakota and you’ll see story after story of operator negligence contaminating the water. Toxic chemicals are spilled. Broken cement casings allow wastewater to leak around well bores. Uncapped wells leak methane and other chemicals that can get into groundwater.

There’s something wrong with the law in Montana when landowners have to pay to protect themselves from damage done by oil and gas development, which produces millions of dollars for the oil and gas companies. County commissioners should require every oil and gas operator to pay for regular testing and monitoring of all wells near a drilling site to prove they are not contaminated. This testing should be done by independent companies, not companies chosen by the oil and gas developers. It is a cost of doing business here in Montana, and it is necessary to protect our property rights.

Jane Moses


Last Updated on Thursday, 06 November 2014 11:12

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Public parks for people

Please maintain responsible stewardship and keep the dogs out of Billings’ parks.

There’s already too much dog feces and illegal, unsafe dog traffic in our public parks. Please don’t let a vocal minority of dog owners with savvy social networking further erode the quality of our parks.

Social scientists tell us we’re living in a current golden age of narcissism and exceptionalism: “The laws don’t apply to me.” The current laws for dog owners aren’t regularly followed or enforced now.

The Forest Service adopted this useful guideline back in 1905: “Where conflicting interests must be reconciled, the question shall always be answered from the standpoint of the greatest good of the greatest number in the long run.”

Our treasured public parks are valuable shared resources held in “common.” Where the “commons” are not actively protected from a minorities’ short-term selfish interests at odds with long-term collective interests, the outcome is predictable. History has sadly chronicled the familiar “tragedy of the commons” where shared resources get degraded and depleted.

Please don’t let our parks “go to the dogs.”

Greg Jahn


Last Updated on Thursday, 06 November 2014 11:11

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Consider public lands transfer

As a U.S. Forest Service retiree, I know the benefits of a well managed forest. Over the last 20-plus years, I have seen the federal government’s “on the ground” forest management deteriorate. Lack of timber sales and excessive access closures have not served the public or the resource well.

Many years ago I helped found Montanans for Multiple Use as a way to involve the public in the decision making process of forest planning. We opposed the Forest Service spending public funds to rip out dozens upon dozens of perfectly good access routes. We won’t accept the Forest Service reduced timber harvest and  bad land management practices. We have lost our access and have overgrowth that causes unstoppable wildfires. That day is upon us and it is time for change.

Montanans For Multiple Use advocates responsible, balanced use of public land. The Forest Service has destroyed multiple use roads, restricted access reserving our public lands for a select few. Today’s Forest Service is controlled by out of touch Washington DC bureaucrats, liberal judges, and environmentalists who don’t care about balance or have a clue how to achieve healthy forests.

For many years MFMU has tried working with the Forest Service in good faith to protect access and achieve a forest managed for all citizens, a showcase of forest health, and a healthy economy.  But still they keep destroying access, making it harder to manage the land, fight fires, hunt, recreate, or gather firewood and berries. Today the Forest Service sells only 15 percent of the merchantable timber as specified in the approved forest plan.

The solution is change. It’s time to give serious consideration to turning federal public land over to the state of Montana so people in Montana are accountable to the citizens for management of our public land, our access, and our economy.

This fall, Montanans for Multiple Use plans to sponsor an open, professionally moderated debate to air out both sides of the Transfer of Public Lands issue. As soon as the date is set everyone will be invited.

Clarence Taber

Montanans for Multiple Use


Last Updated on Thursday, 06 November 2014 11:11

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Obama treated unfairly

It is disappointing and saddening to see the depths to which Americans can sink in response to a black president.

From the constant detrimental obstructionism to the spurious claims and hateful dialogue that are meant to discredit him and his presidency, we can measure the decency of our fellow Americans.

We often hear how this or that brave politician will take on Obama, fight Obama, undo anything he was able to accomplish. I have received emails from Rep. Steve Daines in which he continues to ask for help in defeating “Obamacare” instead of making it better. I was hoping for single payer, but all I hear from certain legislators is denigration of the present law, and of the president. Time spent in this endeavor is shameful use of tax dollars.

If any esteemed legislators had joined President Obama in solving problems instead of fighting and insulting him at every turn, many of those problems could have been resolved.

Now they are using the animosity they created toward the president in the first place to help them get elected. No conscience.

Thank you for consideration.

Arliss Pereau


Last Updated on Thursday, 30 October 2014 10:57

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Support Shellnutt

Pinocchio politics are out of control in Senate District 24. Tonya Shellnutt has been called anti-public school, anti-women and anti-public lands by her opponent, all of which could not be further from the truth.  The fact is that Tonya Shellnutt wants nothing but the best for public school teachers and students.

All five of her children attend public school. Two of them have physical challenges, and Tonya is openly grateful for the extra support they have received from their teachers. Tonya also served as a substitute teacher for the local school district in her spare time so she understands the hard work and dedication they give to their jobs.

Tonya Shellnutt wants all Montanans to live a life of victory and to suggest that she’s anti-women, after she’s spent years personally mentoring many women and teens through crises, is appalling.

Tonya Shellnutt frequently spends her weekends with her family enjoying Montana’s beautiful outdoors and she wants to leave the management of Montana’s public lands to Montanans, as it should be. A vote for Tonya Shellnutt is a vote for true Liberty and SD24 voters can feel confident in their support of her.

Carrie Bernard


Last Updated on Thursday, 30 October 2014 10:56

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