By Associated Press - Friday, December 16, 2016

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) - Montana regulators are requiring oil and gas companies to notify nearby landowners in advance of their drilling plans.

A rule adopted on Wednesday by the state Board of Oil and Gas Conservation requires that notification be given to owners of all occupied structures within one-quarter mile of a proposed oil or gas well.

The owners could request within 14 days that a hearing be held on the proposal.

Drilling permits will not be issued until notification occurs.

Occupied structures include houses, schools, offices or hospitals. It does not include barns, sheds or garages.

The requirement was adopted on a 4-3 vote.

It had been pushed by members of the Northern Plains Resource Council, a conservation group based in Billings.

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