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A state district judge has resoundingly rejected a claim by some conservation groups that an environmental review of new natural gas wells in an existing gas field in southeastern Montana did not sufficiently consider the wells’ impact on sage grouse.
In his July 12 ruling, District Judge Joe L. Hegel concluded that the Montana Board of Oil and Gas Conservation (MBOGC) did take “a sufficiently hard look at the environmental effect of the proposed wells considering that they are infill wells in a highly industrialized oil and gas field.”
The 62nd Session of the Montana Legislature may go down in history for many reasons, but one of the biggest will be its positive impact on Montana’s business climate. Lawmakers passed several laws early this year that will help Montana’s small businesses hire more workers, buy newer/safer equipment, or maybe just keep their doors open a little longer.
Cries of outrage reverberated across the country when House Republicans, led by Rep. John Mica of Florida, chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, proposed a 30 percent reduction in federal surface-transportation spending. Never mind that all Mr. Mica’s plan does is limit spending to no more than the gas taxes and other highway user fees that fund federal surface-transportation programs.
Conservatism must be on the rise because once again we find ourselves being treated to a round of scolding concerning the lack of civility in our public discourse, as if we’ve fallen to unplumbed depths and must button up lest the moderate masses take offense. With all due respect, that’s a bunch of hooey.
It’s no coincidence that both ad hominem attacks and appeals to civility so often come from the side that’s run out of arguments. And nobody should be surprised that it’s getting nasty out there with so much now at stake. The current tenor of our conversation was predictable and can be easily explained. It was predictable because, as a famous economist once said, if something can’t go on forever it probably won’t. And it’s explainable by the dual effects of unsustainable spending levels and revulsion at government’s increasing and political inclination to pick winners and losers.
I drive to Sidney over the 4th of July to see for myself the oil activity that I have heard so much about in the last year. After seeing it, there is no way I can explain the sheer number of people and trucks that drive from Sidney to Williston on a daily basis, even on this holiday weekend.
As I approach Sidney, I have a hard time equating the small community I used to visit every summer with this place I am now in. The activity is hard to describe; oil, gas, and gravel trucks rumble through Main Street consistently. I see no other compact car like mine in the vicinity - there are only the large semis, and four-wheel drives/SUVs with large corporation logos on them. Needing some familiarity, I take a right turn at the Moose and drive toward Grandma Volk’s house.
The average price per gallon (PPG) of gasoline in Montana is now $3.65, hardly the affordable energy we need to boost our economy and fight a lingering 8.1 percent unemployment rate. And what are our representatives in the nation’s capital doing to help alleviate this financial burden?
The Big Sky Business Journal
P.O. Box 3262
Billings, MT 59103