When I contacted Energy Corporation of America — one of the companies hoping to develop shale oil along the Beartooth Front — I asked if they'd notify area landowners of the whereabouts of their recently purchased leases, give an idea of what they hope to do and ask for feedback. I also suggested they set up a website and post information and lease maps so people can learn about hydraulic fracturing and understand what type of infrastructure may be needed.
When the company responded, they provided a prewritten letter about how they've been around a long time and are good environmental stewards. But nothing changed. People on the Front still don't know what's going on. Although it's possible to tediously track down federal lease information if you already know how, the company's dealings with non-federal leases is a mystery, and could be far more acreage than all their federal holdings. Even when a permit to drill is filed, ECA still hasn’t agreed to inform people that live nearby or post info on their website.
This shows ECA's total lack of transparency regarding their intentions. Many of us have a lot to lose, like the quality of our groundwater or having to live next to 20-foot-high flames of flared gas and toxic fumes. We want to know where ECA is cutting deals and where we need to be on alert before the drill rigs show up. By then, it's too late to have a seat at the table.
It seems this company will tell us they're good neighbors, but their actions have told us otherwise. It's time to demand better.