The Race for Governor and Otter Creek: The Answer is “Revenue”

Lee Newspapers featured an interesting story today focusing on the fact that both candidates for the Democratic nomination for Governor support the XL pipeline.  This shouldn’t be of any real surprise – virtually every major Democratic player in the state supports the pipeline: Tester, Baucus, Schweitzer, and Bullock.

What made the piece interesting was the bit about Otter Creek.  Apparently, Larry Jent has decided it’s worthwhile to take a jab or two at Bullock.  I’m not really sure what Larry’s strategy is here, but it sure is interesting.

In a news release, Jent also called on Bullock to outline some specific positions on energy-related issues.

“Steve Bullock and I differ on the important issue of the role of coal in Montana’s economic future,” Jent said. “I support the development of the Otter Creek (coal) tracts; Steve voted against that while on the Land Board.

“I spoke for and voted for (the) Montana Alberta Tie Line (MATL) this past year in the Senate. Does anyone know where Steve stands on energy?”

Most of us who pay attention to Montana politics know Steve supports the development of Otter Creek.

In response, O’Brien [spokesperson for Bullock] said, Bullock “believes that Montana can create jobs and grow our rural economies through responsible development of our vast energy resources, including coal, wind, oil and gas, hydropower, biofuels and geothermal. That’s why he’s a supporter of Otter Creek.”

“But Steve also believes that Montana shouldn’t give away our resources,” O’Brien said.

Montana leased the Otter Creek coal for less than half of what experts said it could be worth and one-ninth of what Wyoming is getting, he said.

“Had we waited, we could have received nearly $200 million for Montana taxpayers,” Bullock’s spokesman said.

I happen to agree with Bullock.  We shouldn’t have leased for so little.  But make no mistake, in the race for governor, Bullock’s vote on Otter Creek will not be about the environment, it will be about revenue.

Rick Hill will  attack Bullock’s vote on Otter Creek in every way he can (just like Larry Jent is), but Bullock’s answer is solid: ‘yes to leasing Otter Creek, but we should have gotten more.’

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.

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M. Storin


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