Montana Politics

Photographer to document oil development on Blackfeet Reservation

There is a growing debate in Montana and it revolves completely around “development.”  With something like 70% of Montanans being “pro-development,” strick, no-development-anywhere conservationists have a lot of minds to change.  But this post isn’t about that.  This post is about a very interesting project a man named Tony Bynum has begun.  From the Great Fralls Tribune:

Tony Bynum of East Glacier has photographed grizzly bears, elk and Glacier National Park.

Oil drilling rigs are the focus of his latest work.

Mr. Bynum plans on spending the next ten years documenting, through photography, the oil development on the Blackfeet Reservation.  Bynum wants “to show the changes development brings to the plains-meets-mountains landscape.”

Bynum’s original project was going to be focused on the development of a wind farm.

You can check out the work he has already done on this project by visiting his website.

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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  • Hello: Could you please provide factual evidence and names of organizations, which are, as you claim, "strick, no-development-anywhere conservationists."

    Thank you.

  • Also, I'm not even what "pro-development" means when you state "With something like 70% of Montanans being 'pro-development'"…Seems like a pretty generic term, hardly getting to the nitty-gritty and wide variation of just what "pro-development" might mean.

    However, just for the sake of argument, if a poll would find that the majority of Montanans are against gay marriage or the majority of Montanans are against immigration reform policies such as the Dream Act would you also use that to take a swipe at human rights or immigration reform organizations? It's just very curious to me how conservationists/environmental organizations are a regular punching bag with some left-leaning folks, portrayed in a very similar manner to what you'd find from anti-environmental GOP rhetoric.

    Finally, RE: "Pro-development" Ochenski has a new column out titled, "Dems divided: Obama decision on Keystone XL splits party"

    • Where do you see Storin stating any kind of opinion? There are certainly conservationists who would prefer that no new construction proceed, that there be no net increase in energy production, etc. It is not a surprise that those people are not in the majority.

      But, if you fall somewhere between development over everything and no development ever, then Storin really isn't saying anything to you or about you, except that maybe you'd be interested in this particular photo project. And something tells me that a photo project about drilling for oil in beautiful landscape will be unabashedly pro-development.

      • Hello PW: I was simply asking for "M. Storin" "provide factual evidence and names of people and organizations, which are, as he claims, "strick [sic] no-development-anywhere conservationists." I wish M. Storin would be able to back up claims and digs he puts in writing a little better than with complete silence.

        Anyway, I'm also not sure you, PW, are correct when you state, "something tells me that a photo project about drilling for oil in beautiful landscape will be unabashedly pro-development."

        If you go to the photographer's (Tony Bynum) actual website for this project (… you'll see his project is sub-titled, "Wide open, roadless spaces, wildlife, and the people who depend on them: A Photo Record of 'Progress.'"

        There is also plenty of indication from Mr. Bynum's write up of his project that this will not be an "unabashedly pro-development" photo project.

        SNIP: "The anticipated time frame for my project is 2010-2020. Filming is underway. The first images are of a relatively intact landscape followed by photos of “progress.” Drilling, drillers, the local economy and the social impacts over the lifetime of the project will follow. The photographs will be used now to help educate people about this threatened region. At the same time, the project will build a digital archive for future generations who can better understand what the land looked like before and during the period of disturbance. Both digital and print images will be created and widely shared with organizations and the public though online media, social networks, web blogs, and personal presentations. Once the road’s are in, the well pads created, the drill rigs erected, ponds dug, the power lines strung and the turbines begin churning, the current largely unobstructed landscape will be a memory. Memories are all that is left when you no longer can see something in person. Images sharpen and stimulate memories. Images are likely to persist through longer spans of time and are more dependable than memories."


          • "There is also plenty of indication from Mr. Bynum's write up of his project that this will not be an "unabashedly pro-development" photo project."

            Yeah that's my mistake – I forgot a crucial negative there. I mean to say that it wouldn't be a pro-development project. Indeed, I think even an expert propagandist on an oil company dime would have trouble creating a photography project featuring machines drilling giant holes into some of the most beautiful country in the world that was pro-development.

            As to Storin's 'digs', I don't see them. The author seems to be merely pointing out an interesting project; indeed, one I imagine you would be particularly interested in. Indeed, I see no reason to think this person's opinion is any different than your own, though I don't know Storin personally. Not everything discussing the environment is an attack on environmentalists.

            • PW: Thanks for pointing out the correction…that helps explain a lot.

              I'm pretty sure I never characterized Storin's words with as strong a word as "attack." Rather, I thought Storin's sentence was a dig, a swipe at some perceived faction of the environmental movement, which perhaps doesn't even exist, except in some people's minds. Again, if Storin is going to claim that there are "strick [sic], no-development-anyone conservationists" in our midst, I'd sure assume he could name some organizations or some individuals. But perhaps not.

              I also think it's very interesting to consider how some of the left-leaning blogs in Montana treat the environmental movement compared to the way the same blogs treat the immigration reform movement or the gay rights movement. But perhaps it's just me that notices this.

  • A people who willingly poison their own water supply are TOO frickin' stoopid to live. I am truly amazed that anyone could support fracking as a method of economic development. We used to have a very good Major Facility Siting act, but it was slowly enervated by indusry long ago. Hence, I am proposing a new act, the Major Facility Shitting Act! You see, before we allow anyone to shit in our water supply, it must be approved by either the legislature or by a vote of the people. When did the people of Montana agree to allow their aquifers to be poisoned? I don't remember participating in that debate! Anyone from eastern Montana knows how preious a good water supply is. What gives? When did they become so stupid and greedy to allow outta state corporations to shit in their water? Someone help me understand just when this change took place. I missed it.

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