NorthWestern’s Rising Taxes

NorthWestern Energy’s property tax payments are going up this year, not down. In fact, they are going up 10 percent.
NorthWestern’s property tax bills have made lots of headlines across Montana recently. We are the state’s largest property taxpayer, and our property taxes are one of our largest costs of doing business. As Montana’s largest provider of essential utility services, our prices are based on the cost of providing that service. Given that property taxes are a significant portion of our customers’ bills, it is extremely important that we manage our property tax costs for the benefit of our customers.

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Activists Tamper with Pipeline Valves, Called Act of Terrorism

On Oct. 11, arrests were made in four states, including Montana, following the criminal disruption of oil pipelines between the U.S. and Canada. Using bolt cutters to remove chains, the trespassers tampered with five border-crossing valves on pipelines that collectively move 2.8 million barrels a day of crude to the United States from Canada, the equivalent of 15 percent of daily U.S. consumption.

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Between Standing Rock and a Hard Place


If you haven’t heard of the Dakota Access pipeline protest across the North Dakota border, now’s the time to pay attention.
The project, a 30-inch-diameter pipeline owned by Energy Transfer Partners, would move up to 570,000 barrels per day from the Bakken oil fields to Patoka, Illinois, was scheduled to be operational by the end of the year. The pipeline operator purchased voluntary easement agreements on 100% of the properties along the route in North Dakota and 99% of the properties across the entire four-state route. All permits, including approval by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in July, have also been obtained by the company; however, protests have stopped construction in its tracks.

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Feds to “blacklist”, Halt Firms from Moving State to State

The man who argued that the federal government had the authority to block companies from moving operations from one state to another might soon be in charge of deciding which companies qualify for hundreds of billions of dollars in federal contracts — but not right away.
A federal judge has issued a preliminary injunction blocking implementation of the so-called “blacklisting” rule, which would require federal contractors and subcontractors bidding on jobs of $500,000 or more to publicly report any resolved, pending or alleged violations of 14 federal labor laws.

Read more: Feds to “blacklist”, Halt Firms from Moving State to State

One West

As both urban and rural westerners celebrated National Public Land’s Day this weekend, we must remember the important role privately owned working ranches and farms play in sustaining the wildlife and other resource values in these large landscapes.

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Fairness and freedom...

Early in my first term on the Public Service Commission, I was struck by how different the role of commissioner was, from that of a state legislator – a hat I had previously worn. Legislators, as law makers, are advocates for specific public policy. Their ideologies are obvious, and they get elected on that basis.

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Voters Oppose Coal Shut-down

By a two to one margin, Montana voters oppose shutting down coal-fired power plants in Montana, according to polling conducted earlier this year and released by the Western Education Foundation for Resources (WEFR). The polling was conducted to assess voter attitudes on coal-fired electricity generation, President Obama’s plan to reduce carbon emissions, and how that plan is projected to negatively affect jobs in Montana.

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“The view from Helena vs. the view from the trenches”

Governor Bullock recently wrote an opinion piece bragging up Montana’s economy. Perfectly understandable. He’s a politician running for reelection. But economy, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. Let’s see how things look to those of us outside of Helena and in the trenches.

Read more: “The view from Helena vs. the view from the trenches”

MPA stands with BNSF

In response to recent actions taken by the Spokane City Council to place an ordinance to fine the transportation of oil and “uncontained coal” on the ballot in a special election, the Montana Petroleum Association (MPA) voices its opposition.

Read more: MPA stands with BNSF

Market Update

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