Archive for November 17th, 2009

by jhwygirl

A fifth vacant rural development officer position in the state’s Department of Commerce is already vacant and won’t be filled.

Ravalli Republic’s John Cramer has the story.

Cutting 5 jobs geared towards economic development that hold statewide importance to communities all over the state…5 jobs that have created or saved over 3,800 jobs – and not having an answer to them about what you are going to do to “reorganize” isn’t exactly serving the citizens of Montana.

Maybe it would of been nice to have answers in place for the County Commissioners and the Dick Kings of the state before making that kind of cut.

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by jhwygirl

This is in follow-up to a previous post.

Somewhat surprisingly if only for who made the motion, the State Land Board voted to delay decision on the Arch Coal Inc. leases of the state’s Otter Creek coal holdings for 30 days to allow for additional time for public comment regarding the leases.

Secretary of State Linda McCulloch made the motion. McCulloch has been a vocal supporter of the Otter Creek coal project since her days as State Superintendent of Public Instruction.

Does this signal weakening support for the leases? At least from what any local citizen can see here at either the city or county level, when approval is expected to go south, elected who support a project will often make a motion to return the thing back to committee rather than face a death-knelling vote. Delaying the vote is usually a last ditch effort to try and solidify an affirmative vote.

Was McCulloch sensing the vote heading south? Time will tell.

Lee Newspapers Mike Dennison first story on the vote made mention of the massive amounts of carbon dioxide that will be released into atmosphere should the 1.3 billion tons of coal be burned. His second story on the vote provided information from the two counties that provided proponent testimony on the project, which included Powder River County Commissioner Don McDowell – who is also listed as Treasure of the Montana Association of Coal and Gas Counties.

Given there are 30 more days, those interested might want to go back to my previous post which links to many great resources on the subject of Otter Creek. For some related stuff around these parts, you can search “Tongue River” “coal” and “sequestration” for additional information concerning issues of Otter Creek, coal production and the water quality and quantity degradation that it brings to Montana and the residents of the Tongue River.

If coal could be shown to be clean, I’d be fine with it. It’s not, though. The EPA, until recently, exempted carbon dioxide from NEPA analysis when permitting coal-fired plants. Montana’s CO2 output is increasing.

With less of a market for coal and with rising CO2 outputs in the state – and aren’t we supposed to be going green or something? Isn’t would that what the Good Governor campaigned on back in 2004? – why would we facilitate the extraction and consumption of more coal and CO2? Isn’t that bass ackwards considering that it is 2009 and “renewable” and “sustainable” are the names of the game now?

There are many factors here where public comment and testimony depart from the economic analysis done last fall (prior to the EPA decision regarding coal-fired plants). The leases are based upon that older analysis that is in dispute. Certainly, given that this is one of the largest leases ever put out by the state ever, a thorough, accurate and timely analysis is in order.

Let’s hope that the additional 30 days provides all with sufficient time to more thoroughly look at all factors surrounding the Otter tract leases to determine whether it is what proponents are saying it’s going to be.




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