Energy Environment Montana Politics Ryan Zinke Steve Daines

Monday sundries: Zinke, Montana GOP, Democrats, Daines, guns

Written by Pete Talbot
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More Zinke antics

Montana Bureau of Land Management officials are scratching their heads over a mandate by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to get folks drilling.

Pesky tribal and environmental regulations sometimes slow the BLM permitting process but as explained by Jayson O’Neill of the Western Values Project in Whitefish, it’s the market, or lack of one, that’s causing the delays.

The Billings Gazette article doesn’t make clear why market conditions are delaying permitting but BLM managers in Montana say there aren’t that many permits in the hopper:

“In Montana, there were 84 pending applications and of those, 82 of them are in a pending status. There’s no way of acting on them because they’re in the Interior Board of Land Appeals,” said Scott Haight, of BLM.

Oil and gas drilling permits on federal land in Montana weren’t languishing because of BLM foot dragging, Haight explained. The permits were being slowed either by public objections over project conditions or myriad other reasons. Either another government agency hadn’t signed off, or an oil and gas company hadn’t supplied all the necessary information to move ahead.

There’s obviously a glut of oil and natural gas, which raises the question, why is Zinke pushing so hard to increase leases?

“This is just good government and will further support the president’s goal of American energy dominance,” Zinke explained.

In other Zinke news, the hunting and angling community is starting to wake up to Zinke’s outdoor policies. Groups like Ducks Unlimited, Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, and the National Wildlife Federation initially embraced Zinke’s appointment, reports Huffington Post.

They’re having second thoughts.

Over the last four and a half months, however, some of those same organizations have changed their tune as Zinke has cozied up to fossil fuel interests and come to support a budget proposal — one he initially vowed to fight — that would slash funding for land acquisition and conservation programs while promoting increased drilling and extraction on public lands.

“The level of frustration is growing daily” among outdoor groups, Whit Fosburgh, president of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, told HuffPost.

That last quote is particularly ironic since Zinke describes himeslf as an “unapologetic admirer and disciple” of President Theodore Roosevelt.

Dark money threats

According to Montana GOP operative Jake Eaton, it’s all a liberal conspiracy. The fact that his lawyer wife, Emily Jones, obstructed a dark money investigation is irrelevant.

Last Best News has the story. There are a lot of familiar names in the article: Jason Priest, Ed Walker, Art Wittich and Jeff Essmann, for example. The investigation centers around the Montana Growth Network and tens of thousands of dollars spent during the 2012 election cycle.

You might remember Eaton from a series of missteps: voter suppression in 2008 and some skanky campaign practices during the 2016 Kristen Juras/Dirk Sandefur Montana Supreme Court race among them.

I appreciate that it was the  independent, online press that broke this story. Please read the entire piece. This is your Montana GOP at work.

Democrats’ path ahead

There were plenty of postmortems after the disastrous 2016 election. Now, with just eleven months until the midterm primaries and 16 before the general election, let the premortems begin.

I’ve been able to catch up on my reading and news feeds this past week. Although James Conner has an excellent list of books for progressives, my attention span leans toward periodicals. It’s fair to say that every pundit and politico has an article on the path to victory for the Democratic Party; from Rolling Stone to Harpers to The Atlantic to The Hill. Of course, the opinions are all over the map: populist, centrist, leftist…

An op-ed in the New York Times from a former Bill Clinton pollster, and a New York City Democratic apparatchik, urges moving “back to the center” to win elections. It is immediately rebuffed by an LA Times op-ed, and not surprisingly, In These Times.

Closer to home, Montana Democrats are asking the same questions. For example, Sen. Jon Tester recently held an impromptu meeting with Missoula Democrats, basically firing up his base. Health care was a heady topic, and an audience member asked about advancing a single-payer plan. Tester responded that keeping the ACA (Obamacare) in tact was a big enough battle — single payer was off the table.

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could play offense instead of defense? Considering the make up of the current congress and administration, the 2018 election will probably stay on defense.

Keep making those calls

The latest version of the Senate GOP health care plan is out and it stinks just as much as the last one. The LA times digs into the “hidden horrors” of the bill. Here’s an example of some of the sausage making that’s going on:

The “Murkowski Mollification.” The Senate bill has a craftily-worded handout for Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska). She’s been a holdout on the Senate bill because of its massive cuts to Medicaid, an important healthcare program in her state.

The amended measure guarantees at least $1.3 billion, or 1% of a $132-billion, 10-year bailout fund, to any state where premiums are 75% higher than the national average. Only one state qualifies: Alaska.

Sen. Steve Daines says he’s still on the fence so keep those calls and emails pouring in. Here’s a link to the senator’s various offices (scroll down).

Calling all Rambos

The link seems to have disappeared but a small article in last week’s Montana Untamed section of the Missoulian caught my eye. “Defensive rifle class set… ” was the headline and here’s the course description:

This one day course will concentrate on providing instruction and drills that will increase your ability to perform on demand utilizing a semi-auto rifle (AR-15, AK, etc) … This course is designed to give you the skills and confidence to use this type of rifle in a defensive situation from 10 to 100 yards.

In this class you will learn how to: Load and unload, zero your rifle, clear malfunctions, use effective dry fire training, explore concepts of cover and concealment, utilize low light operations, and use primary to secondary weapon transition. You will learn to shoot quickly and accurately.

Join us for a fun-filled day of learning and shooting.

Get ready for the Red Hordes or a zombie apocalypse or all those violent liberals the NRA has warned you about. This is just what we need, more folks packing semi-automatic weapons around town, “just in case… ”

 

 

 

 

 

About the author

Pete Talbot

'Papa’ Pete Talbot is first and foremost a grandfather to five wonderful grandchildren. Like many Montanans, he has held numerous jobs over the years: film and video producer, a partner in a marketing and advertising firm, a builder and a property manager. He’s served on local and statewide Democratic Party boards. Pete has also been blogging at various sites for over a decade. Ping-pong and skiing are his favorite diversions. He enjoys bourbon.

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