What Does Coal Country Montana Mean, Part II

by jhwygirl

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?

  1. ladybug

    Montana’s land ethic is long gone among land-board politicians of both major parties. Dems, except perhaps for Juneau, want to liquidate (tax commonwealth land) for cash now, not protect natural landscapes for future generations.

    Martz, “lapdog” for sure, was at least less ambitious, making her less of a real threat to the environment.

  2. Big Swede

    The lawsuit you mention was against the power plant not the coal mine.

    There is a difference, but you know that right?

    And I’m supporting this based on the overall benefit to the state coffers, not just the schools.

    Even in the previous post you had a anti-mining link which stated revenue to the state will be measured in the billions.

  3. Big Swede

    Her it is. Tom Power’s quote, 07/09

    >>A recent appraisal of the state’s interest in that coal concluded that if the state were to put the coal up for lease, it would get an upfront leasing bonus payment of almost $40 million and then, over the 40 year life of the coal mines that would extract the coal, the state would also collect almost $1.5 billion in royalty payments.<<

    • You really need to read the whole thing, Big Swede. Tom Powers is no friend to the Otter Creek proposal:

      Montana citizens and the Montana Land Board should keep in mind something that mineral rich states often ignore: Most of the earth’s mineral wealth, including most of America’s coal, never gets developed because the costs are too high and the quality too low. All minerals in the ground do not represent wealth. Most of them represent unsustainable costs, both commercial and environmental. As a result those deposits will remain undeveloped in the centuries to come just as they did for centuries past. Government efforts directly or indirectly to subsidize the development of uneconomic mineral resources are more likely to impoverish us than to bring us prosperity.

      Good to know, though, that you are a fan of Montana Environmental Information Center. I’m quite a fan also.

  4. problembear

    so king kole is the savior of all our energy needs according to all the politicians. also nice to stuff those state treasury coffers full…..

    guess we’re all going over the cliff pedal to the metal at 115 mph rather than slowing down and at least taking a look at the canyon that the climate scientists have told us we have dug for ourselves………… gonna be a pretty quick pile-up for our grandkids at this rate.

    as major kong (slim pickens) says…… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wcW_Ygs6hm0


  5. As the state’s website says, the Montana Land Board oversees more than five million acres of school trust lands in order to generate revenue for the trust — for schools in the state. But the task is not simply economic. Inherent in public education are responsibilities for the health and well being of the students and the future of the students. That is why the Land Board should carefully consider all decisions about coal lands. There are options for revenue that do not required strip mining the land and polluting air, land, and water, and the associated negative impacts on the health and well-being of children.

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