New Federal Fracking Rules Rely on FracFocus Even as EPA Research Highlights Site’s Flaws

EPA researchers ran up against a major stumbling block in crunching numbers based on FracFocus’ data, an issue that some warn may continue to cause problems even as the Bureau of Land Management adopts FracFocus as the mechanism for tracking fracking chemicals used on federal public lands.”

Source: desmogblog.com

by Sharon Kelly

chemicals  Photo credit:”Bulk fluid shipping containers on pallets ready for shipment,” via Shutterstock.

It’s a classic case of the government’s left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing. Days after the Bureau of Land Management issued new federal rules for fracking on federal land, relying heavily on an industry-run site called FracFocus, the Environmental Protection Agency issued a study mainly noteworthy for the shortcomings of the site that it revealed.

More than 70 percent of the chemical disclosure statements that drillers posted on FracFocus between January 2011 and February 2013 were missing key information because drillers labeled that data “confidential business information,” the EPA reported.

On average, drillers reported using a mix of 14 different chemicals at each well site. At sites where information was withheld, an average of five chemicals were not named.

In fact, FracFocus allowed drillers to conceal the identity of more than one out of every ten chemicals whose use was “disclosed” on the site, EPAresearchers found.

This made it impossible for EPA‘s researchers, who received over 39,000 disclosure statements from FracFocus in March 2013 and published their study two years later, to definitively say what chemicals drillers used most often, how much of each chemical was injected underground, or even to simply create a list of all the chemicals used at the wells.

“The project database is an incomplete picture of all hydraulic fracturing due to … the omission of information on CBI [confidential business information] ingredients from disclosures, and invalid or erroneous information created during the development of the database or found in the original disclosures,”EPA noted in a fact sheet about the research.

All told, the EPA was able to identify 692 different chemicals — including hydrochloric acid, methanol and diesel fuel — that were used during fracking. But that number is almost certainly incomplete, EPA researchers said, in part because over 129,000 individual ingredient records were labeled secret.

The gaps immediately drew the ire of environmental groups.

The fracking industry is hiding a lot of information about the chemicals they are using in our communities,” Kate Kiely, a spokeswoman for the Natural Resources Defense Council, told Bloomberg. “Even without that information, it is clear that there is widespread use of dangerous chemicals.”

Just seven days before EPA‘s results were released, the Bureau of Land Management announced new rules intended to manage fracking on over 247 million acres of public land managed by the federal government and the 700 million acres for which the government owned mineral rights as of 2013.

The BLM‘s newly-minted chemical disclosure rules are built around FracFocus, allowing drillers to make required reports through the industry-backed website.

Data, data, everywhere…

EPA researchers ran up against a major stumbling block in crunching numbers based on FracFocus’ data, an issue that some warn may continue to cause problems even as the Bureau of Land Management adopts FracFocus as the mechanism for tracking fracking chemicals used on federal public lands.

FracFocus stored the information drillers provided in separate .pdf files for each disclosure, and every .pdf form can be different if drillers decide to edit the formatting. This meant that EPA researchers needed to spend enormous amounts of time simply transferring each bit of information into a spreadsheet, and then going back and making sure that each bit of information was in the proper place.

Some open-government advocates say that the BLM‘s reliance on FracFocus runs contrary to an executive order issued by President Obama that pledged to make data from the government “easy to find, accessible, and usable” by requiring it to be “machine-readable” — essentially in a format that lets researchers access it.

“Besides the fact that this decision flouts the President’s own Executive Order #13642 on Open Data, why are we so concerned about how the government manages fracking data?” David Manthos, Communications Director of the environmental organization SkyTruth wrote in a blog posting about the BLMrules. “The reason is because this decision will deprive property and homeowners, scientists, decision-makers, emergency responders, healthcare professionals, and the general public of effective access to information that is vital to investigating the environmental, social, and public health impacts of modern oil and gas drilling.”

FracFocus has promised to upgrade its site, having already done so once since it provided EPA researchers with the raw materials for their study. But SkyTruth’s Manthos remains skeptical.

“I’m concerned that BLM is basing their decision on vague promises, and will have no leverage or authority to control the timetable, implementation, or functionality of these improvements,” he said.

For a while, Mr. Manthos’ organization tackled the tedious task of scraping data from the FracFocus site and importing it into spreadsheets so researchers could use it. But in 2013, their work came to an abrupt halt when FracFocus froze SkyTruth’s access to the site.

There was a little error message that was coming out saying, ‘Hey, you’re sending too many requests. You’re being blocked for 24 hours,’” SkyTruth’s Paul Woods explained to StateImpact last year. “Then, they block you for 48 hours and then they block you forever.”

SkyTruth is not the only organization to find fault with FracFocus. In 2013, astudy published by Harvard University’s Environmental Law Program gave the site a failing grade, noting that it “has limited quality assurance procedures” because “FracFocus staff does not review submissions” uploaded by drillers.

The BLM‘s new rules also allow drillers, not regulators, to decide when a chemical should be considered secret as they upload their disclosures to FracFocus.

“These trade secret provisions are much weaker than many states and ignore the advice of a Department of Energy advisory panel which unanimously recommended that ‘any trade secret exemptions permitted by BLM in its regulations for hydraulic fracturing on federal lands include a rigorous process of claiming trade secret exemptions and robust trade secret verification and challenge mechanisms,’” the NRDC‘s Amy Mall wrote in response to the new rules.

The relative laxity of the BLM‘s new rules has done little to deter protest from the oil and gas industry, who see the rules as chipping away at state-level oversight of the shale drilling rush.

“Under the strong environmental stewardship of state regulators, hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling have opened up a new era of energy security, job growth, and economic strength,” API Director Erik Milito said in a statement. “A duplicative layer of new federal regulation is unnecessary, and we urge the BLM to work carefully with the states to minimize costs and delays created by the new rule to ensure that public lands can still be a source of job creation and economic growth.”

Already, battles over the BLM‘s new rules are headed into the courthouse.

Two industry groups, the Independent Petroleum Association for America and the Western Energy Alliance, have filed lawsuits claiming that the BLM‘s rules overreach federal authority, as has the state of Wyoming. Environmental organizations have suggested that the rules could also be vulnerable to a challenge under the National Environmental Policy Act.

The bottom line is,” the NRDC‘s Amy Mall told The Dallas Morning News, “these rules fail to protect the nation’s public lands — home to our last wild places, and sources of drinking water for millions of people.”

Wild Horses: A New Adobe Town Arrival at Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary

SOURCE:  wildhoofbeats.com

by Carol Walker, Dir. of Field Documentation, Wild Horse Freedom Federation

15CarolWalker-21

Gwendolyn greets Sabrina and Bronze Warrior’s filly

I headed to the Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary last week so that I could be there to witness the 10 wild horses from Adobe Town getting released into their new home at the Sanctuary – a huge open pasture.

15CarolWalker-6

Storm and Sundance

15CarolWalker-70

Aurora looks pregnant to me

When I arrived, I was delighted to find that tensions had cooled between the former stallions, and Sundance was keeping a respectful distance from Bronze Warrior’s family. It was so good to see Bronze Warrior with his family. Theodore, Diamond Girl and Snowfall were all busy eating hay when I arrived and I was very pleased to see that Snowfall had gained back most of the weight he had lost at the roundup and at the corrals. Diamond Girl has developed quite a belly, and I speculated about which of the mares might be pregnant. Gwendolyn had lost her foal the the Rock Springs Corrals, but Diamond Girl and Aurora and Sabrina looked as though they might very well be having babies soon.

15CarolWalker-44

Diamond Girl

15CarolWalker-46

Snowfall

READ THE REST OF THIS STORY HERE.

Nestle Continues Stealing World’s Water During Drought

Before we get to our featured article below, it is important to note that the BLM continues to remove wild horses and burros because of “drought,” or because there’s “not enough” forage and water.  We know there is a “man-made” drought because the huge amount of water used by mining and other extractive industries (oil & gas).  Advocates need to be aware of all of the issues surrounding big users of water from our aquifers.   I’ve listed a few sources regarding California’s dire drought below, but there are similarities in other states and areas.

A recent Los Angeles Times editorial by the hydrologist Jay Famiglietti starkly warned: “California has about one year of water left.”

Sonali Kolhatkar recently wrote an article “To Solve California’s Water Crisis, We Must Change the Nation’s Food System.”  Residential use of water in California is about 4% and agricultural use is 80%.

Kolhatkar states:  “The truth is that California’s Central Valley, which is where the vast majority of the state’s farming businesses are located, is a desert. That desert is irrigated with enough precious water to artificially sustain the growing of one-third of the nation’s fruits and vegetables, a $40 billion industry.   Think about it. A third of all produce in the United States is grown in a desert in a state that has almost no water left.”

Kolhatkar also states “When water allocations from the federal government were cut, Central Valley farmers began drilling deep into the ground to pump water out of the state’s precious, ancient aquifer. Now, the pumping has gotten so out of control that water is being tapped faster than it can be replenished by rain or snowfall, leading to some parts of the land literally sinking. What’s worse, California’s farmers are irrigating their lands with water from a 20,000-year-old reserve, depleting and probably permanently damaging a reservoir that formed in the Pleistocene epoch.

Shockingly, until recently, California did not even regulate groundwater use, unlike states like Texas. Anyone could drill a well on their property and simply take as much water as they needed for their own use—a practice that dated back to the Gold Rush.”

The New York Times also recently ran a big article on the drought.  You can read it HERE.

Hopefully the links to articles above and the article below will give you some information on a few (of the many) issues with water and what is happening with our aquifers.  The wild horses and burros are “the canary in the coal mine.”   –  Debbie Coffey


Nestle Continues Stealing World’s Water During Drought

SOURCE:  mintpressnews.com

Nestlé is draining California aquifers, from Sacramento alone taking 80 million gallons annually.  Nestlé then sells the people’s water back to them at great profit under many dozen brand names.”

ARROWHEAD MORONGO NESTLE

The Arrowhead Mountain Water Company bottling plant, owned by Swiss conglomerate Nestle, on the Morongo Indian Reservation near Cabazon, Calif. Photo credit: Damian Dovarganes

The city of Sacramento is in the fourth year of a record drought – yet the Nestlé Corporation continues to bottle city water to sell back to the public at a big profit, local activists charge.

The Nestlé Water Bottling Plant in Sacramento is the target of a major press conference on Tuesday, March 17, by a water coalition that claims the company is draining up to 80 million gallons of water a year from Sacramento aquifers during the drought.

The coalition, the crunchnestle alliance, says that City Hall has made this use of the water supply possible through a “corporate welfare giveaway,” according to a press advisory.

A coalition of environmentalists, Native Americans and other concerned people announced the press conference will take place at March 17 at 5 p.m. at new Sacramento City Hall, 915 I Street, Sacramento.

The coalition will release details of a protest on Friday, March 20, at the South Sacramento Nestlé plant designed to “shut down” the facility. The coalition is calling on Nestlé to pay rates commensurate with their enormous profit, or voluntarily close down.

“The coalition is protesting Nestlé’s virtually unlimited use of water – up to 80 million gallons a year drawn from local aquifers – while Sacramentans (like other Californians) who use a mere 7 to 10 percent of total water used in the State of California, have had severe restrictions and limitations forced upon them,” according to the coalition.

“Nestlé pays only 65 cents for each 470 gallons it pumps out of the ground – the same rate as an average residential water user. But the company can turn the area’s water around, and sell it back to Sacramento at mammoth profits,” the coalition said.

Activists say that Sacramento officials have refused attempts to obtain details of Nestlé’s water used. Coalition members have addressed the Sacramento City Council and requested that Nestle’ either pay a commercial rate under a two tier level, or pay a tax on their profit.

Warming Drought

Cracks in the dry bed of the Stevens Creek Reservoir in Cupertino, Calif. Photo credit: Marcio Jose Sanchez

 

In October, the coalition released a “White Paper” highlighting predatory water profiteering actions taken by Nestle’ Water Bottling Company in various cities, counties, states and countries. Most of those great “deals” yielded mega profits for Nestle’ at the expense of citizens and taxpayers. Additionally, the environmental impact on many of those areas yielded disastrous results. 

Coalition spokesperson Andy Conn said, “This corporate welfare giveaway is an outrage and warrants a major investigation. For more than five months we have requested data on Nestlé water use. City Hall has not complied with our request, or given any indication that it will. Sacramentans deserve to know how their money is being spent and what they’re getting for it. In this case, they’re getting ripped off.” 

For more information about the crunchnestle alliance, contact Andy Conn (530) 906-8077 camphgr55 (at) gmail.com or Bob Saunders (916) 370-8251 

Nestlé is currently the leading supplier of the world’s bottled water, including such brands as Perrier and San Pellegrino, and has been criticized by activists for human rights violations throughout the world.  For example, Food and Water Watch and other organizations blasted Nestlé’s “Human Rights Impact Assessment” in December 2013 as a “public relations stunt.”

“The failure to examine Nestlé’s track record on the human right to water is not surprising given recent statements by its chair Peter Brabeck challenging the human right to water,” said Wenonah Hauter, Executive Director of Food & Water Watch.  She noted that the company famously declared at the 2000 World Water Forum in the Netherlands that water should be defined as a need—not as a human right.

“In November 2013, Colombian trade unionist Oscar Lopez Trivino became the fifteenth Nestlé worker to be assassinated by a paramilitary organization while many of his fellow workers were in the midst of a hunger strike protesting the corporation’s refusal to hear their grievances,” according to the groups. 

The press conference and protest will take place just days after Jay Famiglietti, the senior water scientist at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory/Caltech and a professor of Earth system science at UC Irvine, revealed in an op-ed in the LA Times on March 12 that California has only one year of water supply left in its reservoirs.

“As difficult as it may be to face, the simple fact is that California is running out of water — and the problem started before our current drought. NASA data reveal that total water storage in California has been in steady decline since at least 2002, when satellite-based monitoring began, although groundwater depletion has been going on since the early 20th century. 

Right now the state has only about one year of water supply left in its reservoirs, and our strategic backup supply, groundwater, is rapidly disappearing. California has no contingency plan for a persistent drought like this one (let alone a 20-plus-year mega-drought), except, apparently, staying in emergency mode and praying for rain.” 

Meanwhile, Governor Jerry Brown continues to fast-track his Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) to build the peripheral tunnels to ship Sacramento River water to corporate agribusiness, Southern California water agencies, and oil companies conducting fracking operations.

Read the rest of this article HERE.

Sunshine Laws and BLM’s news release on the upcoming National Wild Horse & Burro Advisory Board meeting

A BLM “News Release” is below.  There will be a live stream of this meeting, and we will post the link so you can listen.  I’d like to call your attention to the last sentence of the news release:  “In Fiscal Year 2013, the BLM generated $4.7 billion in receipts from public lands.”  I wonder how much the BLM got from selling off our public lands in 2014.

74497___gustavorezende___Kids_6_03

And just a quick reminder, there are both state and Federal government transparency “Sunshine Laws.”  You can read the text of the U.S. Government in the Sunshine Act (5 U.S.C. 552b)  HERE.   The subject matter (agenda) must be made available for the public ahead of the meeting.  You are allowed to audio and video record meetings.   If meetings are “closed” to the public, you can obtain transcripts of the closed meetings.  Also check the state laws where the meeting is taking place, because they will also specify what you can do (like carry big signs into the meeting room).  If you are unable to drive to your local BLM Resource Advisory Committee (RAC) and subcommittee meetings, call the BLM and ask them to use a cell phone so you can listen and comment during the public comment time.

“The open meeting requirement of the Act mandates that, except as provided in the Act’s 10 exemptions, “every portion of every meeting of an agency shall be open to public observation.”

______________________________________________________________________________

SOURCE:  BLM

Release Date: 03/23/15
Contacts: Tom Gorey , 202-912-7420

BLM Sets Meeting of National Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board for April 22-23 in Columbus, Ohio

The Bureau of Land Management’s National Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board will meet on April 22-23 in Columbus, Ohio, to discuss issues relating to the management and protection of wild horses and burros on Western public rangelands. The two-day meeting will take place on Wednesday, April 22, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Thursday, April 23, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. (The meeting times are local time; Columbus is in the Eastern Time Zone.)
The upcoming Advisory Board meeting will be held at the Hyatt Regency Columbus, 350 N. High Street, Columbus, Ohio 43215; phone number: 614-463-1234. The meeting will be live-streamed (at http://www.blm.gov/live).  The agenda of the meeting can be found in the March 23, 2015, Federal Register (at http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2015-03-23/pdf/2015-06517.pdf).
The Advisory Board provides input and advice to the BLM as it carries out its responsibilities under the 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act. The law mandates the protection and management of these free-roaming animals in a manner that ensures healthy herds at levels consistent with the land’s capacity to support them.  According to the BLM’s latest official estimate, approximately 49,200 wild horses and burros roam on BLM-managed rangelands in 10 Western states.
The public may address the Advisory Board on Wednesday, April 22, from 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., local time. Individuals who want to make a statement at Wednesday’s meeting should register in person with the BLM by 2 p.m., local time, on that same day at the meeting site.  Depending on the number of speakers, the Board may limit the length of presentations, set at three minutes for previous meetings.
Speakers should submit a written copy of their statement to the BLM at the addresses below or bring a copy to the meeting.  There may be a Webcam present during the entire meeting and individual comments may be recorded.  Those who would like to comment but are unable to attend may submit a written statement to: National Wild Horse and Burro Program, WO-260, Attention: Ramona DeLorme, 1340 Financial Boulevard, Reno, Nevada, 89502-7147. Comments may also be e-mailed to the BLM (atwildhorse@blm.gov); please include “Advisory Board Comment” in the subject line of the e-mail.
For additional information regarding the meeting, please contact Ms. DeLorme, Wild Horse and Burro Administrative Assistant, at 775-861-6583.  Individuals who use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD) may reach Ms. DeLorme during normal business hours by calling the Federal Information Relay Service at 1-800-877-8339.
The Advisory Board generally meets twice a year and the BLM Director may call additional meetings when necessary.  Members serve without salary, but are reimbursed for travel and per diem expenses according to government travel regulations.

In its management of wild horses and burros under the 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act, the BLM is implementing recommendations made by a June 2013 report of the National Academy of Sciences. For instance, the BLM is taking actions to increase the use of population growth-suppression measures on overpopulated herds roaming Western public rangelands and implementing methods developed by the U.S. Geological Survey for more accurate population estimates.

The BLM manages more than 245 million acres of public land, the most of any Federal agency. This land, known as the National System of Public Lands, is primarily located in 12 Western states, including Alaska. The BLM also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. The BLM’s mission is to manage and conserve the public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations under our mandate of multiple-use and sustained yield. In Fiscal Year 2013, the BLM generated $4.7 billion in receipts from public lands.

 

 

BLM Requests Input On Application To Graze Bison Year-Around At Flat Creek Allotment

Although this area is in northern Montana and not on a wild horse Herd Management Area, it is an example that it is possible to change a class of livestock (from cattle to bison) and change the livestock use (from seasonal to year round grazing) on public lands.

The American Prairie Reserve (APR), plans to use about 250,000,000 acres of PUBLIC LANDS with a goal of obtaining 500,000 acres of private land to graze bison in a “wildlife park.”

The APR website states “Building A Multi-Million Acre Wildlife Reserve
In northeastern Montana, American Prairie Reserve (APR) represents a unique effort to assemble a multi-million acre wildlife park that will conserve the species-rich grasslands of Montana’s legendary Great Plains for the enjoyment of future generations.”

While APR plans to make these public lands benefit future generations, shouldn’t this be what the BLM is doing with our public lands according to the Federal Land Management Planning Act (FLPMA)?

And although it seems nice of APR to state that the reserve (our public lands) will never be “locked up” from public use, this plan would still convert public lands to uses directed by a private organization.

–  Debbie

Lingohr.bison_ (photo:  Dennis Linghor, American Prairie Reserve)

SOURCE:  roundupweb.com

(MALTA, Mont.) – The Bureau of Land Management Malta Field Office is seeking public input for an environmental analysis regarding a grazing permittee’s application to change their class of livestock and to change the livestock use and management on the Flat Creek Allotment (15439).

The American Prairie Reserve has applied to change the class of livestock from cattle to indigenous bison on their permit to graze public lands on the Flat Creek Allotment in south Phillips County.

In addition, they are seeking permission to remove interior fencing and manage their private lands along with the public lands as one common pasture. They are also requesting to change the allotment grazing season to year-round from the current May 1 – Nov. 15 grazing season.

The allocated animal unit months (AUMs) and carrying capacity of the public lands would remain unchanged. All regulations for grazing public lands would apply and all grazing management would continue to adhere to the Standards for Rangeland Health.

For more information, please call B.J. Rhodes, Rangeland Management Specialist, at (406) 654-5120. Substantive comments about this application must be in writing and can be sent to the Malta Field Office, 501 South 2nd St. East, Malta, MT 59538 or email brhodes@blm.gov.

More details on Kountz Arena animal cruelty investigation in Bozeman

Readers have had questions about the investigation of Kountz Arena, and this article seems to contain more specific details that may answer everyone’s questions.  Kaylee Kountz’s explanation of why two animals were in such a horrid condition didn’t make any sense. Supposedly, the horse’s hoof fell off a month prior to being seen and photographed by Kristie Townsend.   The horse was, by Kristie’s account, suffering, laying in excrement and covered in sores.  Kountz said the calf was brought to the arena because it was in “poor health.”  When was the calf’s neck broken, and how?   There are no excuses.

SOURCE:  Belgrade News

Bozeman horse arena under investigation for animal cruelty

by Hannah Stiff

A social media storm is brewing over alleged animal abuse at Kountz Arena in Bozeman. Photos of a horse with a missing hoof and a calf with a broken neck have been circulating Facebook in an effort to garner public support for the mistreated animals and criminal prosecution against the Kountz family.

On Saturday, March 28, Kristie Townsend was attending a horse show at the arena when she found Young Doc Bar, a stud horse, suffering in a barn. Townsend said she found Young Doc Bar lying on his side in his own excrement. She learned that the horse was injured in December.

“This was the most horrific thing I have ever witnessed,” Townsend said on her Facebook page. “A call to the sheriff was made. The sheriff called in a vet. The vet said the horse and calf need to be put down.”

Townsend said it was cruel to keep the suffering animals alive.

“When he got up, he was covered in bloody oozing bed sores, laying in his own waste,” Townsend said. “No bedding absorbed the pee. His other feet were so overgrown it was just sick. It is clear to me that he was suffering in a way no animal should! He has wasted away to nothing.”

The calf Townsend witnessed was lying in another pen with what she says was a broken neck. Townsend snapped photos of the injured animals and put them on the Internet in the hopes that the animals would be quickly put out of their misery. She’s now waiting for proof that both animals were put down.

A man who answered the Kountz Arena phone Monday morning said he had “nothing to say” about the recent allegations and hung up the phone.

Kaylee Kountz reached out to Townsend on Facebook. Kountz said Townsend was jumping to conclusions before knowing the backstory. Kountz went on to explain that Young Doc Bar had been in her family for 20 years before he got injured in December. She said the horse was taken to the vet but his foot fell off a month ago.

The calf, Kountz said, was recently brought to the arena because it was in poor health. Kountz agreed that both animals needed to be put down and told Townsend that the horse is “laying with a bullet in his head.” She said the calf was also put down. She ended her message saying, “Can this please stop.”

But Townsend and her friends say they want to assure the abuse never happens again. Megan Schilling frequently attends horse shows at the Kountz Arena. She said she was appalled at the conditions the injured animals were living in.

“I just hope someone is held accountable,” Schilling said. “It’s unacceptable.”

Schilling and Townsend have both signed their names to a petition that asks Gallatin County Attorney Marty Lambert to pursue criminal charges against the Kountz Arena owners. The petition is online at change.org. So far more than 1,400 people have signed the petition.

Photos that Townsend took Saturday have been shared more than 175 times on Facebook.

Schilling is working to coordinate a public meeting this week. She wants to inform the community about what happened Saturday and sort out any misinformation. The ultimate goal is making sure no animals are harmed at the Kountz Arena in the future, Schilling said.

Some Kountz Arena sponsors have already pulled their sponsorship in the wake of recent events, Schilling said. She hopes more will follow suit.

According to Gallatin County Undersheriff Dan Springer, his office is investigating the matter. No charges have been filed yet, but he said the Sheriff’s Office is working to gather evidence.

“We currently have the incident under investigation at this time,” Springer said. “We will go on the facts.”

Women describe “horrific” scene at horse arena in Bozeman

SOURCE:  kxlf.com

7319270_G   Authorities are investigating allegations of animal neglect after this horse was discovered missing part of its leg at Kountz Arena. The stallion has been euthanized.

Bozeman – The Gallatin County Sheriff’s office continues to investigate alleged animal neglect at the Kountz Arena in Bozeman.  Lt. Arlyn Graydanus has confirmed the horse and calf involved in the allegations were both euthanized.

Several people who say they witnessed the abuse at Kountz arena are stepping forward. One woman who did not want us to use her last name said she was getting her horse ready when she was called over to see something at one end of the arena.

“I seen the stud laying on the ground with part of its leg missing and it was a very, very horrific site to see,” said Shelly.

Another woman who was there, took photos that have now been shared hundreds of times on social media.

Kristie said she was also getting ready when she was called over to the scene by a friend. She said across from the horse, she saw a calf lying in its own feces.

The Sheriff’s office was called to the scene as well as a veterinarian. Kristie said once they left, two men came and forced the horse to get up and walk into a trailer.

“They forced that animal to get up and walked that animal out of that barn in the most disgusting way I’ve ever seen an animal move in,” said Kristie. “You could see the unbearable pain with every step that animal took.”

A petition started circulating over the weekend asking for prosecution. According to Lt. Greydanus, this is still an open investigation into animal neglect and they are still interviewing people about what happened.

We have reached out to the owners of Kountz arena for comment and have not heard back.

BLM unaware oil company was using pipeline

How could the BLM be “unaware” that a company is using a pipeline?  (Another reason to wonder how closely the BLM actually monitors the range.)  According to True Oil (True Companies), “Belle Fourche Pipeline is a liquids pipeline operator that gathers and transports crude oil in the Williston Basin of western North Dakota and the Powder River Basin of Wyoming.”  To see a map of this pipeline in Wyoming, click HERE.  According to an article in the Casper Star Tribune, True Companies have had many pipeline spills.

True Companies also owns 7 True Ranches (ADA Ranch, Double Four Ranch, LAK Ranch, Rock River Ranch, Chalk Bluffs Ranch, HU Ranch, VR Ranch), 2 feedlots (LAK Feedlot, Wheatland Feedlot) and 2 Farms (LAK Farm, Wheatland Farm) in Wyoming.          –  Debbie

cows  True Ranches’ cattle (photo:  True Companies)

SOURCE:  Buffalo Bulletin

Almost a decade after Belle Fourche Pipeline Co., a True Oil company, told the Bureau of Land Management it was no longer using a pipeline 44 miles southeast of Buffalo, the pipeline leaked 25,200 gallons of crude oil onto public lands.

The company terminated its right of way permit in writing in 2006. At some point, without the knowledge of the federal agency, the company illegally resumed use of the pipeline, said Christian Venhuizen, BLM public affairs specialist.

Why and when the company continued to use the pipeline remains unanswered. Bob Dundas, environmental coordinator for Belle Fourche and Bridger pipelines, said he would forward the Buffalo Bulletin’s request for information and comment to someone who could answer questions related to permitting.

On May 20, 2014, Belle Fourche reported the oil spill to the BLM, after workers noticed oil seeping up from the ground, Dundas said. The BLM determined that Belle Fourche was in trespass, Venhuizen said, and fined Bridger Pipeline, a sister company, also owned by True Oil.

“The company was fined for trespassing based on the federal workers’ hours involved to investigate circumstances and to remediate the spill, as well as back rental for the existing pipeline,” Venhuizen said in an email.

Bridger was fined $27,029 for the Belle Fourche trespass, Venhuizen said. The money was paid on July 29, 2014, according to BLM records.

Bridger applied for a right of way amendment Sept. 9 of last year, Venhuizen said. The BLM is still processing the application, he said.

The spill originated from a crack on a gathering line, buried between 4 and 6 feet underground, and traveled 3 miles down a dry gulch, said Dundas. Most pipelines fall under the jurisdiction of a regulating agency, but gathering lines sometimes are not, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Material Safety Administration.

The PHMSA regulates 551 miles of the Belle Fourche line in Montana, North Dakota and Wyoming. But, the gathering line that cracked in Johnson County did not meet the criteria for PHMSA oversight, said Damon Hill, PHMSA spokesman. The gathering line was either less than 6 inches in diameter, in a rural area or operated at a low pressure, Hill said.

As a result, PHMSA incident reports and records of compliance with safety codes on the Belle Fourche pipeline do not include the Johnson County oil spill. According to the agency’s records, Belle Fourche was responsible for two incidents in 2014, totaling 340 gallons of crude oil spilled and $231,700 in property damage. A full record of incidents on Belle Fourche pipeline is only available from the company itself.

The company estimated that 600 barrels, or 25,200 gallons, leaked last spring. That amount is an estimate based on Belle Fourche’s records of pump rates and number of days in use, and is not validated by independent, federal or state regulators, Dundas said.

Remediation continues on the site, Dundas said. Belle Fourche recommended that the soil be tilled to assist with bioremediation or biodegradation, which Dundas said involves getting enough moisture and oxygen to the area to assist microbes that feed off the residual crude. The company has also considered adding fertilizer, Dundas said.

Bioremediation is the preferred form of remediation because it doesn’t involve heavy machinery, which could create erosion, Dundas said.

“We’re trying to do as little damage as possible to the drainage,” he said. “It’s a lot less invasive.”

Dundas expects the remediation process to continue in the summer with a reassessment this fall.

*Editor’s note – In last week’s edition, a story about the oil spill in southern Johnson County incorrectly stated the amount of the spill. Belle Fourche Pipeline Co. estimated the spill at 25,200, not 12,200 gallons as originally reported.

 

Double-Decker Horse Transport Bill Introduced

Story By Pat Raia as published in TheHorse

Introduced March 24, S 850 would amend Title 49 of the U.S. Code to “prohibit the transportation of horses in interstate transportation in a motor vehicle containing two or more levels, stacked one on top of one another.”

Picture courtesy of AWIonline.org

Picture courtesy of AWIonline.org

A bill that would outlaw the transport of horses in double-decker trailers has been reintroduced into the U.S. Senate by Illinois Republican Senator Mark Kirk. The bill stems from a 2007 incident involving the crash of a double-decker trailer carrying Belgian Draft horses crashed near Wadsworth, Illinois.

In October 2007, a semi-truck hauling 59 Belgians in a double-decker trailer from Indiana to Minnesota overturned, resulting in 17 horses’ deaths. The surviving 42 horses were placed in the care of the Hooved Animal Rescue and Protection Society (HARPS), in Barrington, Illinois, and later in adoptive homes.

Subsequently, a dozen states either banned the use of double-decker trailers for horse transport or took steps to further regulate double-decker trailer use. In 2007, the USDA banned the use of double-deck trailers to transport horses to slaughter. However, no federal legislation banning the use of double-deck trailers for general horse transport has been passed.

Introduced March 24, S 850 would amend Title 49 of the U.S. Code to “prohibit the transportation of horses in interstate transportation in a motor vehicle containing two or more levels, stacked one on top of one another.”

Under the proposed legislation, violators could face civil penalties of at least $100, but not more than $500 for each violation. The legislation also contains a separate violation for each horse that in transported or caused to be transported in a double-deck trailer as described.

Kirk sponsored similar legislation in previous congresses, including S 1281 in 2011.

Meanwhile, S 850 has been referred to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation for review. The legislation remains pending.