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The IR Applauds Burns’ Transparent Ploy on the Rocky Mountain Front

Look out, Missoulian! The IR editorials are starting to move into your territory. Today, the IR says this of Conrad Burns’ change of heart about the Rocky Mountain Front:

It isn’t necessary to speculate about election-year motivations in order to offer up a big thank you to U.S. Sen. Conrad Burns for working to do the right thing by the Rocky Mountain Front. And as chairman of the Interior Appropriations Subcommittee and a member of the ruling party in Congress, Burns is in a position to get the job done.

Now, maybe I am a little simple minded, but how can Burns justify this position?

On October 31, 2003, the Christian Science Monitor reports that Conrad said this:

“Over the past decade we’ve learned that true energy security comes from diversity in its sources,” he said last week in a prepared statement. “I feel that for the sake of our homeland security, we owe it to ourselves to at least know the extent of the energy supply held (in the Rocky Mountain Front).”

On April 14, 2005, the AP reports that:

Burns said that “the decision to transfer leases should be made by the leaseholders. Congress has no business interfering in this, especially from a financial aspect.” He reiterated that if opponents of petroleum development along the Front want to protect the area, then they should buy out the leaseholders.

And in the debate on Saturday in Whitefish, Burns criticized Jon Tester for not supporting drilling in the ANWR, suggesting that it would be critical for energy independence.

As Jon Tester said in the debate, Conrad Burns isn’t wrong all of the time, but you’d have to be pretty naive to believe that this last minute change of heart was anything more than a transparent political ploy along the lines of his pledge to serve only two terms. It’s readily apparent that Conrad would remember who he really serves after the election.

But even if we give Burns the benefit of the doubt, how does he explain apparently underming national security and energy independence in one action? And why isn’t the newspaper asking him to explain the contradiction? I guess that kind of reporting–searching your own damn archives–is too much to expect.

If you appreciate an independent voice holding Montana politicians accountable and informing voters, and you can throw a few dollars a month our way, we would certainly appreciate it.

About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba has been writing about Montana politics since 2005 and teaching high school English since 2000. He's a former debate coach, and loyal, if often sad, fan of the San Diego Padres and Portland Timbers. He spends far too many hours of his life working at school and on his small business, Big Sky Debate.
His work has appeared in Politico and Rewire.
In the past few years, travel has become a priority, whether it's a road trip to some little town in Montana or a museum of culture in Ísafjörður, Iceland.


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