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Blackfeet ‘Fracking’ to Use Cutting-Edge Water Treatment Technology
Blackfeet Nation signs letter of commitment with Florida company
The Blackfeet Nation has agreed to use an onsite water treatment service in hydraulic fracturing operations on the reservation. - Courtesy photo
The Blackfeet Nation has signed a letter of commitment with Florida-based Ecosphere Technologies Inc. to use the company’s water treatment services in oil and gas exploration efforts on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation, a partnership aimed at making the hydraulic fracturing process more environmentally friendly and efficient.

Ecosphere Technologies, which has ties to Whitefish, uses what it calls “Ozonix” technology, a non-chemical approach to treating and reusing flow-back water that results from the controversial oil and gas extraction method called hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking.”

Hydraulic fracturing is the process in which millions of gallons of water mixed with sand and chemicals are pumped into the ground at high pressure, fracturing underground rock formations and opening up avenues for gas and oil to emerge to the surface. The process leaves behind flow-back water that is loaded with contaminants and must be trucked away for storage or disposal.

Officials with Ecosphere Technologies say their Ozonix technology allows the flow-back water to be treated on site and reused, rather than transported to an outside site. The on-site treatment, they say, is better for the water supply and environment, the energy companies and the reservation.

The technology is described as a “patented advanced oxidation process that uses ozone, hydrodynamic cavitation, acoustic cavitation, and electro-chemistry to provide microbial control and scale inhibition.”

Charles Vinick, chairman and CEO of Ecosphere Technologies, said the company’s Ozonix technology has been used to treat more than 1 billion gallons of water on roughly 500 oil and natural gas wells since 2008.

“This is an important opportunity to work with the Tribe to provide jobs for their members and to help the tribe realize their development goals for profitable and environmentally responsible hydraulic fracturing operations,” Vinick said in a March 27 statement announcing the partnership.

Grinnell Day Chief, oil and gas manager for the Blackfeet, said the tribe selected Ecosphere “after spending significant time and effort evaluating all available water treatment technologies in the market.” Day Chief said tribal representatives have visited fracking sites where Ecosphere is replacing traditional chemicals with Ozonix and recycling 100 percent of the water.

“By providing the oil and gas companies operating on our land with access to this environmentally sound and cost-effective technology,” Day Chief said in a press release last week, “we are reinforcing our commitment to improving the quality of life for our people through economic development of our energy resources while also preserving our vital natural water resources for future generations.”

Much of the Blackfeet Indian Reservation’s 1.5 million acres is leased for oil and gas exploration. Energy companies that have already secured mineral rights are actively drilling horizontal and vertical wells on the reservation. The Blackfeet Reservation rests over the Bakken shale formation, which holds significant amounts of natural gas and oil. The Bakken has produced the current energy boom in North Dakota and eastern Montana.

Tribal officials on the economically beleaguered reservation see resource development as a potentially major revenue source. But critics worry that oil and gas exploration will contaminate ground and drinking water on the reservation. They are also concerned about the reservation’s close proximity to Glacier National Park and the effect fracking will have on the area’s environment and wildlife.

Ecosphere officials note that the reservation “is part of a sensitive and important ecosystem.” They believe their technology can help address those environmental concerns.

“Ecosphere’s Ozonix process will allow operators to reuse their wastewaters and treat water in an environmentally friendly manner,” said Robbie Cathey, CEO of Ecosphere Technologies’ subsidiary Ecosphere Energy Services. “It demonstrates everyone’s commitment to utilizing our natural resources and producing energy in a responsible way.”
On 04-06-12, mtnmama commented....
Do we really want to be part of setting off one of the largest fault lines in the country? I don’t know about you, but I live a little too close to Yellowstone for that!   Here are some links to articles…
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