Coalbed Methane Hearing - Nov 10
Posted by Tom (+12) 15 years ago
If you want to protect southeastern Montana's groundwater and rivers for future generations, then don't miss a public hearing on the Water Beyond Methane proposal in Miles City on November 10 at the Miles Community College.

Water Beyond Methane Public Hearing
November 10, 2005; 8:00 a.m.
Miles Community College, Room 106

The coal bed methane water problem is twofold: First, by pumping groundwater from aquifers relied upon by landowners for their stock and homes, methane companies deprive them of the water by drying up wells and springs. Second, once at the surface, the water's a nuisance because it's too salty to be used for irrigation and will ruin the soil when applied.

Irrigators from the Miles City area are part of a broad coalition that has asked the Montana Board of Environmental Review to adopt Water Beyond Methane. The proposal would require coal bed methane companies to put some of the water they take from our aquifers back in the ground. With Water Beyond Methane:

1. Farmers and ranchers will be able to use water from methane extraction for stock watering and their homes.
2. Companies will put remaining water back in the ground so it is available for future generations.
3. Where reinjection is not feasible, companies will remove salts and other pollutants prior to discharge.
4. Montana will once again have the ability to prevent Wyoming discharges from polluting our rivers and streams.

Water Beyond Methane is backed by a broad coalition that includes Tongue and Yellowstone Irrigation District, Tongue River Water Users' Association, Buffalo Rapids Irrigation District, numerous southeastern Montana ranches, Rosebud Conservation District, Beartooth Stockgrowers Association, Northern Plains Resource Council, Surface Owners of the Wolf Mountain Area, Bear Creek Council, Stillwater Protective Association, Bull Mountain Land Alliance, Rosebud Protective Association, Dawson Resource Council, Carbon County Resource Council, and Trout Unlimited.

More information about Water Beyond Methane is available at www.waterbeyondmethane.org or by contacting Roger Muggli, Manager of the Tongue and Yellowstone Irrigation District, at 406-232-4038 or 406-951-0296.
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Posted by Richard Bonine, Jr (+14884) 15 years ago
"water's a nuisance because it's too salty to be used for irrigation and will ruin the soil when applied"

This is not true. As the water as it comes to the surface is actually very clean... so clean that it has the ability to absorb excess salts from the soil and that is the source of the saltiness. It is not the water, it is the soil that is high in salt.

If you use gypsum and sulfur, (or an acid based fertilizer, JEM Ag was 20 years ahead of its time ) you can mitigate the soil to deal with these problems. Combining this with proper agronomic management such irrigation scheduling can make this water very useful.

CBM water gives us a resource to get some grass growing on hill sides, elimiate sagebrush, and a whole host of other benefits. Increasing the ground cover and productivity on our rangelands will decrease the TDS of the rivers and make them cleaner.

Thanks for posting this. Something else to put in my Outlook.


[This message has been edited by Richard Bonine, Jr (edited 10/28/2005).]
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Posted by JOE WHALEN (+620) 15 years ago
Richard wrote:
"This is not true. As the water as it comes to the surface is actually very clean... so clean that it has the ability to absorb excess salts from the soil and that is the source of the saltiness. It is not the water, it is the soil that is high in salt."

Well, Richard, where do you suppose the water in those aquifers comes from in the first place?

Do you suppose that maybe it has fallen from the sky in the form of rain or snow, melted, percolated through the soil and collected sodium molecules along the way in those areas of high alkalinity that permeate the Powder River Basin?

Would that not then fill aquifers with high-sodium or "sour" water which is then pumped out into the watershed as a means of releasing coalbed methane?

Do you have any experience in trying to grow alfalfa or any other forage or field crop using high-sodium water? If so, how successful was your effort?

In the process of osmosis, is it not sodium that absorbs water rather than water absorbing sodium?

I'm attempting to understand your logic.
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Posted by Gunnar Emilsson (+16971) 15 years ago
I too am confused by Richard's post...the water trapped with the methane is not "clean" water, it is very high in TDS (total dissolved solids)...much of it is "connate" water (as opposed to "meteoric" water), meaning that it was trapped with the sediments as they were deposited millions of years ago, when eastern Montana was a shallow sea...I would like to here more of this low TDS water at depth.

As Richard alludes to there are ways to treat high TDS water, but this is an added expense that most producers resist.
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Posted by Richard Bonine, Jr (+14884) 15 years ago
Admittedly, the point I am making is narrow and technical. It based on some research presented at the CBM fair here in Gillette, this past June. When the water that is pumped off of the coal is clean, much like water passed through a carbon filter for a water purifier. This water is ionically charged and when it comes in contact with soil it attracts and adsorbs "salts" mostly sodium. That is when it becomes a problem, if you don't manage the soil chemistry.

Joe asked "Do you have any experience in trying to grow alfalfa or any other forage or field crop using high-sodium water? If so, how successful was your effort?"

Yes, I have 20 years of professional experience helping people across the US grow crops in a variety of situations including using high sodium water. I also have a lot of experience with reclaiming drastically disturbed sites, mostly coal mine reclamation. If managed correctly, you can raise 6-8 tons/ac of Alfalfa hay, 210+ bu corn, 25 ton sugar beets with 20% sugar content in the MC area.

Prior to that I grew up on the "Muggli Fork of the Tongue River" with an irrigation shovel in my hand.


[This message has been edited by Richard Bonine, Jr (edited 10/29/2005).]
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Posted by Jill (+30) 15 years ago
Tom, when I looked at the CBM site, it said the meeting in Miles City was on the 9th at 11:00 a.m. and not the 10th at 8:00 a.m. Who's right?

Richard said:

"CBM water gives us a resource to get some grass growing on hill sides, eliminate sagebrush, and a whole host of other benefits. Increasing the ground cover and productivity on our rangelands will decrease the TDS of the rivers and make them cleaner."

Thanks Richard, but I guess I'm one of the few which is happy with the sagebrush and native grasses on my ranch. I think the original, nature provided flora was working well before we felt the need to "improve" an area which due to its lack of rainfall should never have been farmed in the first place. I selected my dry land ranch because I didn't want to deal with irrigation and "micro-managing" the land by pouring fertilizers and pesticides on it. Amazingly, my land manages to be pretty productive, producing healthy cattle and horses and I haven't felt the need to increase productivity at whatever price. The wildlife, particularly birds, is also plentiful. One native bird, the sage thrasher, needs sagebrush to survive. Maybe as the self-proclaimed "managers" of this land we might want to leave a couple of pesky sagebrush for some of the species that need it.

Also, after working for oil companies for many years, I know how good they are at cutting corners to boost profits. There are problems with CBM water that need to be addressed and I'm glad there are groups that are making it hard for these companies to prioritize profits above all else.

Richard, all your views tilt towards improving, reclaiming, production, managing, etc., wasn't the earth good enough before?
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Posted by Richard Bonine, Jr (+14884) 15 years ago
So which is it? The Water Beyond Methane website said the hearing was "Miles City, November 9, 2005; 11:00 a.m. Location TBA."

Tom posted the meeting as the 10th at 8:00 am

Which is correct?
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Posted by Rick Kuchynka (+4459) 15 years ago
All so true. New economic plan for Eastern Montana! Divy all our land up as hobby farms for people who only need hobby jobs and wait for the CEOs to start moving in! Who needs production from our land?

Problem solved.

That said, I can't believe local ranchers are so willing to dance with the judiciary over water quality. Wait until the day that water quality tests are done on said ranchers' tailwater, and their judicial friends start telling them what they can and can't do on their land because of it. Wait until the day some environazi gets a wild hair and decides that the large amount of irrigation done from the Tongue is harming some poor little endangered fish, (say the pallid sturgeon). It only takes one sympathetic judge to end irrigation on the Tongue as we know it.

http://www.oregonlive.com/news/oregonian/index.ssf?/news/oregonian/lc_51klama12.frame

And then ranchers will be screaming for salt water, or any water they can get their hands on.

Its a sad day in this country when no solution can be found to support a high-wage paying industry in an impoverished state when the only negative byproduct is salt water.

[This message has been edited by Rick Kuchynka (edited 10/29/2005).]
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Posted by JOE WHALEN (+620) 15 years ago
You've got it exactly backwards, Rick.

It's the judiciary that has been deciding on behalf of the rights of ranchers and irrigators for water quality.

You're usually sharper than that. Having a rough week?
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Posted by Richard Bonine, Jr (+14884) 15 years ago
Jill: guess it is because you worked for an oil company that you can afford a ranch without having to make the ranch pay for itself raising livestock. Otherwise you would have a different view. I also find it humorus that as a self-proclaimed environmentalist you have no interest in decreasing the erosion on your land which would help improve water quality in your watershed.

Most sagebrush in SE Montana is the result of overgrazing, it is not part of the original climax range community.
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Posted by Rick Kuchynka (+4459) 15 years ago
If you look at the link I posted, my point was that the judiciary is fickle. They may support a rancher if he is opposed to big, bad, evil industry. They will bury a rancher if he's opposed to a free-wheelin', earth-lovin' environmentalist.

It only takes one federal lawsuit to change everything. Ranchers will be bitten by the same dog they're feeding. It's only a matter of time.

And that is the part that seems wrong to me. The people and their will are powerless. The judicial ruling class reigns supreme, their dictates held on high.

[This message has been edited by Rick Kuchynka (edited 10/30/2005).]
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Posted by jackie (+162) 15 years ago
as noone has answered the question on the accurate times, i took the liberty to call MCC on the scheduling and the company involved. There are apparently two separate meetings.

Coalbed Methane Public hearing is scheduled for Nov. 9th 5-8 at lame deer.
Environmental Quality also has a public hearing scheduled for nov 10 8am. rm 106. Miles City, via Northern plains resource council.

Joyce whittenberg out of enviromental quality division in helena: number 444-6701 scheduled the nov 10 meeting. she is not in until friday.

Now MCC also has a hearing scheduled for November 9, 5-8 in room 106. maybe it is a metnet thing or just a set up time or totally unrelated. May wish to call beth weideman 234-3031 to clarify that nov. 9 shindig. As Northern Plains does not have any other meeting scheduled in Miles City for that date re: coalbed methane.

fyi, further research: your website information indicates that the nov 9 meeting is scheduled in lame deer not miles city.
hope that helps....

[This message has been edited by jackie (edited 10/31/2005).]

[This message has been edited by jackie (edited 10/31/2005).]
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Posted by Richard Bonine, Jr (+14884) 15 years ago
So is there in fact a meeting pertaining to CBM on Nov 10th at 8:00am in Rm 106 at MCC?
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Posted by jackie (+162) 15 years ago
from my understanding is yes. room 106 mcc 8am.....
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Posted by Gunnar Emilsson (+16971) 15 years ago
I still think that the methane emissions from Bert Elwood's house cause far more damage to the eastern Montana environment than any CBM by-product...
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Posted by Tom (+12) 15 years ago
Hello,

Thanks for your input and debate on this issue. Just so you know, the website now reads that will take place in Miles City, November 10, 2005; 8:00 a.m. Miles Community College, Rm 106.

Hope to see you all there.

Tom
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Posted by Jill Rizk (+48) 15 years ago
Richard wrote:

Jill: guess it is because you worked for an oil company that you can afford a ranch without having to make the ranch pay for itself raising livestock. Otherwise you would have a different view. I also find it humorus that as a self-proclaimed environmentalist you have no interest in decreasing the erosion on your land which would help improve water quality in your watershed.
Most sagebrush in SE Montana is the result of overgrazing, it is not part of the original climax range community.

Thanks for all your assumptions and "guessing" about me and my life Richard. You are entirely wrong on the first two points. Third point you are entirely wrong again. Maybe you should also tell the Sage Thrasher (bird) that somehow they're in the wrong neck of the woods. It'd be nice if you did some "research" before you attack a person without any knowledge of that person. I've actually asked you for information on your background so I could better understand where your point of view came from, but you ignored the question. Maybe you should try and know who a person is and their background first before making an absolute jerk of yourself with your assumptions.
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Posted by Richard Bonine, Jr (+14884) 15 years ago
Jill: Some background. I was born and raised on a ranch in the Pine Hills east of Miles City. Today most of that property is known as Sundial Ranchettes. Through some shyster-type activity thanks to one of the local banks my Dad was forced to sell the place when I was 10 years old.

About that time, I became involved in 4-H; range management was one of my projects. I have been passionate about range management ever since. I competed in plant identification and range judge contests throughout Jr and Sr High school on a state and national basis. I was always in the top 5 at every event.

I graduated from Kansas State University with a degree in agronomy. Along the way I took several courses in range ecology.

Professionally, I have been involved in natural resource consulting work for 18 years. Most of the work I have done is reestablishing soils and vegetation on coal mines, and making sure that vegetation exceeds the standard established in the permit. Surface mining laws also require the reestablishment of pre-mine land use. Nearly, every project I have been involved with has required a grazing program. I co-authored a paper on high intensity short duration grazing program. I have served as the Chairman on a conservation district in NM where we developed several programs to improve the condition of the range.

I am old enough to have seen a lot of change in our landscapes, unfortunately most of it negative. I am always looking for ways and places to get involved in reclaiming landscapes.

As to my assumptions, I will grant you that I jumped to conclusion that your working for an oil company is the way you own a ranch. Maybe that is a big leap. I apologize.

The second assumption I made was that you were not interested in improving the water quality in your "watershed". I said this mostly based on your apparent "love" of sagebrush. One of my problems with sagebrush is that it shades out grass and makes the soil much more prone to erosion. Obviously, we need some sagebrush (prefer A. cana to A. tridentada), but not the dense stands that currently exist. Another concern I have is that the next seril stage after sagebrush is the invasion of juniper and other scrub trees. This will most likely drop the grass population to less than 20% relative cover and further accelerate erosion. This will in turn dramatically increase the TDS of the rivers, making the water more unsuitable for irrigation. The impacts that would have on the local economy are obvious.

As to the Sage Thrasher, I believe that canopy structure in the landscape is what is what is most important here. Taller grass would provide the same function. Again, I am not advocating the total elimination of sagebrush, just a significant reduction so that it is in balance with productive and nutritious perennial grass for livestock production.

The third point I made was that most of the invasion of sagebrush is due to overgrazing. I know this to be fact. I have been around many grazing operations and have observed this transition first hand. I would encourage you to go study the vegetation surveys of Fredrick Clements, the father of range ecology, conducted in the early 1920's. Also, check out "Eighty Years of Vegetation & Landscape Changes in the Northern Great Plains- A Photographic record". You will see that sagebrush has dramatically increased. It was a very small component of the historic ecological site description or climax range condition. In most cases, it should not be more that 15-20% of the vegetation cover.

My goal is to improve rangeland so that ranching can continue to be a sustainable way of life, and increase the profitability. The condition in which we leave the land is our record of stewardship. I want that record to be one of excellence.

Probably more than you wanted to know... but there you go.


[This message has been edited by Richard Bonine, Jr (edited 11/3/2005).]
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Posted by Rick Kuchynka (+4459) 15 years ago
Given your professional expertise, Richard, how do you feel about this relatively new turfgrass hybrid.

You know, the one that's a cross of uh Bluegrass, Kentucky Bluegrass, Featherbed Bent, and Northern California Sensemilia?
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Posted by Gunnar Emilsson (+16971) 15 years ago
Dang, Rick! You're almost getting as sarcastic as me!

Hey Richard...are you going to the 2006 Billings Land Reclamation Symposium next June? I have submitted an abstract for that. If we both go, we should hook up for a pint of Custer's Last Stout. After several, you can expound to me about Martin Luther and I can expound to you about less intense subject matter.
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Posted by Richard Bonine, Jr (+14884) 15 years ago
IF all goes as planned I will be doing a presentation there. I would love to go drink a Stout.
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Posted by Gunnar Emilsson (+16971) 15 years ago
Sounds like a plan.

[This message has been edited by Gunnar Emilsson (edited 11/4/2005).]
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Posted by Tom (+12) 15 years ago
Hello everyone. Thank you to everyone who has contributed to the debate on coal bed methane development, and I especially want to thank those who attended the hearings in Lame Deer or Miles City.

It was an overwhelming success for supporters of the Water Beyond Methane petition. I counted 70 people who spoke, of which 58 supported the petition. Only 12 were opposed to responsible coal bed methane development.

In addition to the Northern Cheyenne, the petition was supported by several rancher and irrigator groups, as well as Wyoming ranchers who have had coal bed methane development on their property.

Again, I wanted to publicly thank everyone who took part in the hearings and on this list. It is wonderful to see democracy in action, and it is great to see a common-sense plan to protect Montana's existing resources.
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