Category Archives: Politics and History

Montana Petroleum Association names former senator Alan Olson as executive director

In a move that exemplifies how cozy the oil and gas industry is with the state legislature, the Montana Petroleum Association (MPA) has named Alan Olson, a Havre native, to replace Dave Galt as its executive director.

Olson served two terms as a state senator and four terms as a representative. Most recently, he was chair of the Senate Energy and Telecommunications Committee.

Olson’s appointment is a classic example of “revolving door” politics, in which industry hires people out of government to gain personal access to government officials; seek favorable legislation, regulation and government contracts; as well as get inside information on what is going on in government.

Local citizens take note. Protections will come from local zoning, not from the cozy relationship between the MPA and the legislature. Continue reading

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Shell folds in Arctic as Obama wins a big bet

Royal Dutch Shell announced Monday that it has abandoned its Arctic search for oil after failing to find enough crude to justify the cost of continued investment. Shell has spent about $7 billion on exploration in the waters off Alaska so far and said it could book losses of up to $4.1 billion for pulling out of the Chukchi Sea for the “foreseeable future”.

As we recently described at Preserve the Beartooth Front, Arctic drilling has been a bone of contention between environmentalists concerned about the substantial risks of drilling, and pro-drilling forces who argue that, because the Arctic Ocean contains 20% of the world’s undiscovered oil, Arctic reserves could replenish a diminishing supply from the Bakken and other US shale fields.

In August the US Department of the Interior issued a permit to Shell to drill an exploratory well into oil-bearing zones in the Arctic Ocean, contingent on the company meeting strict environmental standards.

You have to score this one as a major victory for Obama, who likely anticipated that Shell was not going to be able to justify continued drilling activity when the permits were granted. He took considerable criticism from environmental groups like Greenpeace, who charged, “We think it’s deeply hypocritical for a president who’s done so much for the climate, to see him do something that could undo that is a real tragedy.”

The President plays the long game, and he picks his battles carefully. He chose not to fight this one, but the ultimate outcome should satisfy his environmental critics without angering the oil and gas industry. Continue reading

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Beware: The oil and gas industry has a national game plan to limit local regulation of drilling

Oklahoma has a problem with man-made earthquakes caused by injection wells associated with fracking. You’ve read it on this site many times, most recently on Monday of this week, and Oklahoma’s elected leaders have publicly admitted this is true. So … Continue reading

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Visualizing energy use and its impacts

Sometimes the best way to understand the world is through visualization of images. There’s a wonderful web site called Our World in Data, developed by a researcher at Oxford University named Max Roser. The site covers a wide range of … Continue reading

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Out of the mouths of babes: a Bozeman six-year-old looks at climate change (with video)

Bozeman’s six-year-old Noah Gue  is the youngest of 15 winners of this year’s White House Junior Film Festival. “Noah’s Project,” his three minute video on climate change, earned him a meeting with President Obama, who singled him out as “the … Continue reading

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Guest editorial: Senate Bill 374 ensures oil companies pay their fair share

The following editorial appeared in Butte’s Montana Standard on March 11. SB374 will be debated before the Senate Taxation Committee on Wednesday, March 18. If you support this bill, follow directions for contacting your representatives at the end of this … Continue reading

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Support SB374, which would provide infrastructure support for Montana communities impacted by oil and gas drilling

Montana’s oil and gas tax holiday, instituted by the legislature in the 1999, provides a huge and unnecessary tax break to oil and gas companies. They pay a tax of only 0.5 percent of the production value for the first … Continue reading

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Billings Gazette Editorial: Landowners deserve protection before drilling starts

Published January 29, 2015 Most Montanans support responsible energy development, valuing clean air, water and land as well as the oil and gas that powers our travel and heats our homes. Where we often disagree is on the definition of … Continue reading

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Unbelievable. Carbon County Commissioners defy will of majority to deny Silvertip Zone.

In a stunning reversal that ignored the will of the majority for the opinion of a small minority, the Carbon County Commissioners today withdrew their motion to accept the petitions to form the Silvertip Zone. The Commissioners had voted on … Continue reading

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Canceled: Carbon County Growth Policy meeting Tuesday, November 25 in Red Lodge

NOTE: The meeting tonight has been postponed due to weather and lack of a quorum. It has been rescheduled for December 16. Here’s something concrete and specific you can do to protect your community from unregulated oil and gas development: … Continue reading

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