NWE has already disturbed river, neighbors beyond repair

Reader’s Viewpoint
Thursday, January 20, 2022

A small contingency from the Theil Road Coalition went to Helena on Tuesday January 18th to state their objections to allowing a modified easement to drill under the Yellowstone River. We were told we would have three minutes to speak and each of us prepared for that. When we got there, due to the number of people in attendance who wanted to speak, our times were cut to one minute. OUCH!

I was told to stop speaking long before I had finished what I needed to say, so I want to at least let the rest of you hear it.

My name is Calvin Lance. I live at 1422 Lance Lane and I have been adversely affected by Northwest Energy’s progress in building their RICE generating plant north of my property. I came here today to talk to you about what is going on South of the project.

Northwest Energy is doing the tango with Mother nature and removing her natural armor. Cutting a wide swath of 100 year old cottonwood trees for access to their drilling site. A natural barrier that holds back the Yellowstone from carving more out of the South bank and shifting her path closer to my property. It isn’t a question of if, it is a question of when. NWE started drilling at an apex where the river splits to the south. This river has a mind of its own and refuses to be contained. Neither cars nor concrete have done any good so far. But the majestic cottonwoods have held. Removing any number of trees from this area has a major environmental impact, because the river will win and NWE just changed the rules in the Yellowstone’s favor.

NWE submitted their final Environmental Assessment to the DEQ on June 9, 2021. It was 23 pages long, justifying the generating station and its impact on the North side of the river. The entire 10,000 word document made no mention of the devastation and destruction to get the gas line to their property across the river or what it would do for the south side. So they have been hustling day and night to get the pipeline welded together and under the river, destroying anything in the way to connect to their plant. That’s our river too. We beseech the Land Board to protect the wilds of a Yellowstone that can’t be tamed.

Now the damage is done. I can see the carnage from my back door. Now I have a clear path to the future, unabated by flowing and majestic cottonwoods. Now I see piles of their dead carcasses cast along my fence. And I think, who’s going to clean this up? What promises have been made to the folks on THIS side of the river?

Please, members of the Land Board, take into consideration there are two sides to the Yellowstone River. There are two sides to everything.

Calvin & Bobbe Lance



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