By Darryl L. Flowers
Sun Times Publisher
Folks in the oil and gas industry have been beaten about the head and shoulder so much that they are forced to hang their head, and when asked what they do for a living, they whisper “I work on an oil rig.”
Thus, I would not be the type of person the oil folks want working on a rig or on a seismic crew. I would hold my head high, and proudly proclaim that I’m an “oil man!”
It could be worse, I could be a newspaper publisher.
For years, the media, the multi-billion dollar “green” industry, and political dupes have had their say in what should be an educated discussion of how we explore for energy in this nation.
Day after day, we hear reports about abuse, fraud, political corruption and dismal failure in the forced march toward green energy.
Innovation can not be forced. It can not be legislated.
There will come a time when we will be able to wean ourselves from hydrocarbon fuel. It will not happen in my lifetime, and to criminalize those who risk capital, provide employment, and work in this industry is wrong, and foolish.
In an economy that provides little hope, there is one exception, the energy industry. In Choteau, and other parts of the state, people working to find oil and gas are shopping in our stores and eating in our restaurants. And they are paying taxes. Lots of taxes. And as the wells begin to produce, our schools will see even more tax money, as will our counties, state and nation.
The best way for workers in the oil patch to counter the misrepresentations (to put it politely) of the media, greens and politicians is education. And schools, colleges and universities around the nation need to drop their political agendas and do something new… educate.
If the industry and educators want to see how that’s done, come to Fairfield and visit with Mr. Hahn and his students. Be prepared to put down your laptop and go “boots on the ground” in search of the truth (media types will have to “google” that word).
Mr. Hahn brings a unique perspective to his class. You see, Raimund Hahn spent time with his sleeves rolled up, working on an oil rig years ago. In 1979, Mr. Hahn started at the bottom, as a mudlogger, taking samples of the muck as it emerged from the drill hole.
But Mr. Hahn rarely mentions that. When we toured the rig he let the workers tell their story. And when asked what he expects from the experiments the students are conducting, he replied, “We will see where the facts take us.”
And the “facts” are hard to come by.
Well, let me clarify that. The facts come easy from the people I’ve met working in the oil industry. Every question I’ve asked has been answered, and when you’re standing at the rig and see with your own eyes what’s going on, it’s hard for folks to feed you a line of BS.
Recently, I’ve spent some time researching just how open the oil companies are, compared to the anti-oil and business green industry.
To research this, I requested financial information from random oil companies and nonprofit green organizations. Would you be surprised to find out the oil companies responded without hesitation or question?
But when I asked one of the state’s leading “wilderness” organizations for their IRS filings, they wanted to know why. I’m still waiting for their reports, which, under IRS rules, should be made available to the public.
But the media and the politicians do not want to see “where the facts take us.”
We are told that conservation and energy exploration are like water and oil, that they can not mix. But Boone and Crockett Club and Lisa Flowers are proving that is not the case.
The Boone and Crockett Club, for over a century, has been supporting the nation’s conservation system. The Club, headquartered in Missoula, purchased the Theodore Roosevelt Ranch in 1986. The TRMR adjoins the Bob Marshall Wilderness and the Blackleaf Wildlife Management Area along the front. Through the Club’s Elmer S. Rasmunson Wildlife Conservation Center at the Ranch, the organization provides courses, workshops, presentations and demonstrations for natural resources education and management.
Only a conservation organization with over a century of history understands the momentary distraction that an oil rig causes on the planet. The organization is to be lauded for their common sense approach. Now, to be clear, the Club does not own the oil under their land. That belongs to Fairways Exploration & Production, LLC. Fairways and their partners in this project have taken an extraordinary step to educate the public about the process of finding and extracting our abundant energy sources.
The Boone and Crockett Club is acting as a responsible landowner and is working to make the best of the situation. I am confident that if the club does derive any benefit from the project, it will be spent wisely to further their endeavours in education and conservation. Talk about a win-win!
Soon, hopefully, the rig will be replaced with a small oil well (much smaller than a wind turbine which makes more noise and kills more birds). Once the rig is removed, the area will be restored. The crew housing will be removed. The gravel pad will be hauled off. The workers will move on. And for a few decades… less than the blink of an eye in the life of the planet… the well will be a force to drive our economy. And once the well has played out, it will be removed, the hole covered, and the only remnant will be a required marker showing the well location and depth. And in a couple of years all signs of the well will disappear.
If the media spent less time flying over the front with the green industry and more time on the front, maybe they would be reporting this story, too.
So, thanks to Mike and the folks out on the rig. The students enjoyed the tour, as did their teacher and one newspaper publisher that had rather be back on that rig than sitting at a computer banging out this column.
I for one, am anxious to find out the results of an Honors Science Class project conducted by some very smart Fairfield students, a dedicated Fairfield teacher, and Ms. Flowers with the TRMR.
With kids like these running things in a few years, the world will be in fine hands.
And if you run into an “oil man,” shake his hand.