'We became Michiwest's sewer'

  • Earl and Sue Boardman

    Cody Beers photo/Wyoming Game and Fish Dept.
 

Note: This article is a sidebar to one of this issue's feature stories, "Open for business."

Earl and Sue Boardman's ranch on the banks of the Powder River is dotted with gas wells owned by the Michigan-based company Michiwest. In 1999, Earl Boardman shot a video of the dry water wells, eroded arroyos, and quagmires of mud on his property, and traveled around the state showing the film and talking about his experience. Eventually, state inspectors fined the company for procedural violations. Michiwest has now replaced the water wells affected by their development, installed pipelines, built cisterns and established rock cattle crossings through several washes on the Boardman ranch. Earl Boardman:

"We became Michiwest's sewer. They could have ruined us without ever buying us out. If we don't give them permission to cross our land, they can post bond and condemn it. They can take our property and throw pennies at us. We're like serfs back in medieval England, waiting outside the castle walls for royalty to toss their offal to us ' All the state requires is that surface owners are compensated for damage to crops. Our only crop is grass, and when the going leasing rate for grassland is $5 an acre, that compensation isn't going to begin to cover our losses.

"I think it was publicity that caused the change (in Michiwest). The oil and gas companies want revenue from methane development, but they don't want bad press. They also don't want to have any more rules made, so it is to their advantage to try to do things right if they can. My biggest gripe is not so much with the methane companies as it is with the state. The state government won't even talk about methane. No one will establish any guidelines. They won't say how much water is too much to pump. They won't consider the damage to the aquifer. They are just thinking about the money."

Copyright © 2000 HCN and Molly Absolon

High Country News Classifieds
  • ELLIE SAYS IT'S SAFE! A GUIDE DOG'S JOURNEY THROUGH LIFE
    by Don Hagedorn. A story of how lives of the visually impaired are improved through the love and courage of guide dogs. Available on Amazon.
  • COMING TO TUCSON?
    Popular vacation house, furnished, 2 bed/1 bath, yard, dog-friendly. Lee at [email protected] or 520-791-9246.
  • NORTHEASTERN UNIVERSITY
    All positions available: Sales Representative, Accountant and Administrative Assistant. As part of our expansion program, our University is looking for part time work from home...
  • COMMUNICATIONS ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR
    Position Title: Communications Associate Director Location: Flexible within the Western U.S., Durango, CO preferred Position reports to: Senior Communications Director The Conservation Lands Foundation (CLF)...
  • HISTORIC HOTEL & CAFE
    For Sale, 600k, Centennial Wyoming, 6 suites plus 2 bed, 2 bath apartment. www.themountainviewhotel.com Make this your home or buy a turn key hotel [email protected]
  • MAJOR GIFTS OFFICER
    High Country News, an award-winning news organization covering the communities and environment of the Western United States, seeks a Major Gifts Officer to join our...
  • RUBY, ARIZONA CARETAKER
    S. Az ghost town seeking full-time caretaker. Contact [email protected] for details.
  • VICE PRESIDENT, LANDSCAPE CONSERVATION
    Basic Summary: The Vice President for Landscape Conservation is based in the Washington, D.C., headquarters and oversees Defenders' work to promote landscape-scale wildlife conservation, focusing...
  • BRISTOL BAY PROGRAM DIRECTOR
    Seeking a program director responsible for developing and implementing all aspects of the Alaska Chapter's priority strategy for conservation in the Bristol Bay region of...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    The National Bighorn Sheep Center is looking for an Executive Director to take us forward into the new decade with continued strong leadership and vision:...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    The Powder Basin Watershed Council, based in Baker City, Oregon, seeks a new Executive Director with a passion for rural communities, water, and working lands....
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    Powder River Basin Resource Council, a progressive non-profit conservation organization based in Sheridan, Wyoming, seeks an Executive Director, preferably with grassroots organizing experience, excellent communication...
  • ADOBE HOME
    Passive solar adobe home in high desert of central New Mexico. Located on a 10,000 acre cattle ranch.
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    Eastern Nevada Landscape Coalition, based in Ely, Nevada is looking for a new executive director to replace the long-time executive director who is retiring at...
  • STEVE HARRIS, EXPERIENCED PUBLIC LANDS/ENVIRONMENTAL ATTORNEY
    Comment Letters - Admin Appeals - Federal & State Litigation - FOIA -
  • LISA MACKEY PHOTOGRAPHY
    Fine Art Gicle Printing. Photo papers, fine art papers, canvas. Widths up to 44". Art printing by an artist.
  • LOG HOME IN THE GILA WILDERNESS
    Beautiful hand built log home in the heart of the Gila Wilderness on five acres. Please email for PDF of pictures and a full description.
  • CARETAKER
    2.0 acre homestead needing year-round caretaker in NE Oregon. Contact [email protected] for details.
  • SEEKING PROPERTY FOR BISON HERD
    Seeking additional properties for a herd of 1,000 AUM minimum. Interested in partnering with landowners looking to engage in commercial and/or conservation bison ranching. Location...
  • COPPER STAIN: ASARCO'S LEGACY IN EL PASO
    Tales from scores of ex-employees unearth the human costs of an economy that runs on copper.