What Does Coal Country Montana Mean, Part II
In this previous post, there is commentator that apparently thinks that the only factor important in deciding what to do with Otter Creek is how much tax revenue it will generate for a school district. The assumption has a number of flaws, not the least which is drawing out an example based upon two completely different tax-structured states.
There are other factors that have been listed here, and I won’t bore you with a rehashing of them.
What I will offer is a story that is repeated over and over throughout the United States in communities where mining occurs. The story I offer though, is here in Montana.
Montana and the Land Board should not forget the $25 million payout settlement to 57 plaintiffs in Colstrip that had their water poisoned and their wells ruined. By an industry and a corporation that refused to acknowledge its transgression up until the bitter end of a judge’s gavel. By and industry and a corporation that stood by denial because they could and because they knew that they had far more money than the plaintiffs and no matter what it cost them to fight it, it was worth the odds of doing so because they could outgun the plaintiffs (Montana citizens) and hope that they’d either die off of run out of $?
Is Montana for sale to the highest bidder (and that’s not really what we are talking about here given that there is only the adjacent landowner bidding on this coal)? Are Montana’s citizens on their own to deal with the aftermath? Because it doesn’t appear much was done upfront to protect Colstrip from the damage? They had to find their own attorney? What exactly were the criminal penalties for damaging a whole town’s water?
Because that is the question here: How much of Montana is for sale? Our heart and soul? And water and environment? And how little will we sell it off for in an unknown and bloated coal market?