Suit Filed for Release of Fracking Chemical Information

A coalition of Montana property owners and environmental groups filed suit to gain access to what is claimed to be proprietary information about the chemicals companies use for hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking." The suit against the Montana Board of Oil and Gas Conservation was announced in a press release from The Natural Resources Defense Council. The Montana Board of Oil and Gas oversee compliance to laws and permit the operations of oil and gas companies in the state. The board has complied with Montana law in recognizing industry requests to withhold the information from the public to protect trade secrets, but the coalition wants the information.

Read more: Suit Filed for Release of Fracking Chemical Information

Enjoy a Brew for Economy

The business of craft breweries has contributed a thousand new jobs to Montana and increased the state's population by about 300 people, according to a report recently released in the Montana Business Quarterly, a publication of the Bureau of Business and Economic Research. The Bureau's research on the impact of breweries on the state's economy finds that from 2010 to 2015, breweries increased production by 87 percent, while sales increased by 111 percent, and employment ballooned by more than 200 percent.

Its report, "The Continuing Economic Impact of Craft Brewing in Montana,' collected data from 61 of 71 breweries in the state and followed up on two previous reports in 2010 and 2014.The growth of the industry "has been remarkably steady and shows no signs of slowing down,' said the report, written by Nate Hegyi. Last year, Montana brewers directly accounted for $46 million in gross sales, 702 jobs and $13.2 million in employee compensation and benefits. A total of $17.6 million in capital investment is currently being planned for 2016 and 2017 up from an estimated $9 million planned for 2014 and 2015.In 2015, Montana's craft brewers produced over 163,000 barrels of beer. Researchers extrapolated that "each craft beer sold at a local brewery contributes $9 to businesses and $2.95 in Montana resident personal income, and every6 11,000 pints sold equals one new job in the state.'In 2010, 38 percent of vendor purchases by breweries came from within the state. By 2015, that number grew to 48 percent, totaling $19.8 million in spending directly to Montana businesses. The state's agricultural sector is benefiting as well.The industry success impacts other industries as well. Beer needs yeast, barley, hops and sometimes fruits and honey. In 2014 and 2015 around 36 percent of these products were purchased within the state, totaling $1.4 million and $1.6 million in expenditures respectively.Employment in Montana has also benefited from the rise in craft brewing, adding $35.6 billion in wages, salaries and benefits to the state's economy. And each new job in the brewing sector has an average earning of $34,111.

March 1, Manufacturing Day

Did you know Montana manufacturers exported more than $1 billion in goods in 2015? March 1 is Manufacturing and International Trade Day. It will be recognized at a luncheon sponsored by the Montana Chamber of Commerce at the Montana State Capitol on March 1 from 10:30 am to 1:30 pm in the Rotunda.

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Infrastructure Coalition Sets Legislative Package

The Montana Infrastructure Coalition (MIC) has put together a legislative package that includes support for a 10 cent increase in fuel tax and a bill that would allow communities to consider local sales taxes. The MIC also proposes that the Coal Trust be capped at $1 billion and new revenues used to back bonds issued for infrastructure projects, and to advance legislation that would allow local governments the ability to use private investment to form public- private partnerships.

Read more: Infrastructure Coalition Sets Legislative Package

Economic Outlook

The 2017 Montana Economic Outlook Seminar will be held in Billings on January 31, at the Double Tree. The annual event marking its 42nd year produced by the Bureau of Business and Economic Research at the University of Montana is presented in a series of Montana cities. This year's theme is "The High Wage Jobs Puzzle Finding Montana's Place in the New Geography of Jobs"

1st Avenue North Project

The Montana Department of Transportation (MDT) is seeking comments on a proposal to design and rebuild/ rehabilitate approximately 2 miles of 1st Avenue North from the intersection with Division Street to the intersection with North 9th Street in Billings.

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Power Bills to Reveal Taxes Paid

Montana electric and natural gas customers will notice a new line item on their utility bill this month. NorthWestern and Montana-Dakota Utilities will both be disclosing to consumers the amount of state property taxes that consumers are paying through their utility bills.

Read more: Power Bills to Reveal Taxes Paid

Feds Permits Gordon Butte Project

The federal government has given permission for the building of The Gordon Butte Pumped Storage Hydro project, located in Meagher County about three miles west of Martinsdale. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued a 50-year license to Absaroka Energy to construct and operate a 400-megawatt, closed-loop storage hydro project. Final design is to be completed in 2017 with construction anticipated to begin in 2018.

Read more: Feds Permits Gordon Butte Project

Market Update

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