by jhwygirl

That’s what many said to the State Land Board (and to 3 of its 5 members, Governor Schweitzer, Secretary of State Linda McDulloch and Auditor Monica Lindeen) before then went ahead anyway and approved the Otter Creek coal leases.

Not before – let’s not forget – a poorly orchestrated show between Governor Schweitzer and Linda McCulloch, who first added a bonus bid of 15 cents/ton. Four of ’em played along in that one (with State Superintendent of Public Instruction Denise Juneau casting the lone dissenting vote), but in the end, even Attorney General Steve Bullock changed his mind, seeing through the corporate welfare that was, eventually, approved – a 40% drop in price (and let’s not feign that this was in any way a “bid” given that only one entity could competitively bid on it, given the land-locked nature of the state lands involved and the fact that the bidder is the one that land-locks the land) along with a $57 million instant subsidy of the coal corporate giants.

Can’t forget, either, that a railroad that will also need to be condemned through Montana’s eminent domain laws – that’s condemnation of private land in the interest of a private corporate entity, folks – a railroad that will save that private corporate entity well in the range of $100 million a year in hauling costs from Wyoming’s extensive coal fields down south.

Don’t try and tell me that coal isn’t subsidized – a industry as old as the world is still gaining both federal and state subsidy to operate. Ridiculous.

Oh, yeah – there was more. The votes were disappointing (Schweitzer, McCulloch and Monica I-campaigned-on-a-biodiesel-bus Lindeen). Even Button Valley was getting an overload of it, as was I, as Governor Brian Schweitizer headed out around the state pushing on communities to sign a oath to coal in order to get their legislatively appropriated stimulus money.

An illegal transgression that was largely overlooked – as was the stashing of that Otter Creek bid money in this year’s general budget instead of going to schools as it is legally obligated to do (along with that whole the-legislature-is-the-only-lawful-appropriator-of-money thing). It’s something that is coming home to roost, those illegal transgressions, and quickly becoming a private joke amongst many of us who railed against both of these things when they were occurring.

But we’ll leave that for another post, and the real journalists who are already asking the questions. Enable once, shame on you..enable twice, shame again…but sure as hell don’t get indignant about it the third time around…

Enter now Northern Plains Resource Council, the Wildlife Federation, Montana Environmental Information Center and the Sierra Club, who collectively filed two lawsuits this week challenging the Otter Creek coal lease approval.

NPRC and WF said that the state land board failed to adequately analyze the environmental effects of the project. MEIC and SC challenged on the basis of the economic and global warming effects of the project.

There are a myriad of problems with Otter Creek. I’m mystified as to the embracing – in a state that seems to champion individual property rights – of a project that will railroad over the private property rights of individuals (pun intended).

I’m also mystified that a state – in a time of general budget distress not only internally, but nationwide – would dish out such corporate welfare to the detriment of our very own children’s education funding.

What’s the real shame is that Montana’s citizens – and its very worthy non-profits – have to sue to get the state to meet its constitutional obligations outlined in what is known in our state constitution as the Montana Environmental Policy Act.

This can not and should not be taken lightly. I don’t care how many laws that the legislature passes or tries to pass attacking it. This is a constitutional guarantee. Guarantee. And this word can not be overemphasized enough. This isn’t some old state constitution. It is a modern document, with words that were carefully chosen, discussed and debated in modern many-remember-them times. Guarantee was not a word chosen or placed lightly, and it leaves little room for discussion.

It is the law of the land. Our state agencies, our land board and our Governor all have the obligation to make sure that guarantee is met each and every day. Shame on them for having to be sued to comply with constitutional obligations.

  1. Big Swede

    It’s a sad day indeed.

    Let’s all get together and mourn (or laugh) over this state’s insensibility.

  2. ayn rand

    good catch BS LMAO

  3. i like my conservatives served very overconfident with just a dash of stupidity and a generous slathering of oblivious.

    you and ayn rand are going to get served in ’10 and ’12 swede.
    the few dinosaurs leftr who disregard the environment this badly are seeing their ignorant adherents dying off and getting smaller and smaller. with each barrel of oil (per second) as the gulf coast suffers, the american people are appalled as corporate assholes like haliburton, BP, and that swiss outfit blame each other for their collective malfeasance. it is a sorry sight.

    and the coal mine which ignored safety measures and defied inspectors for years

    doesn’t paint a very pretty picture of a far right conservative owner either.

    keep laughing you guys. the majority of americans will set the table this fall by hanging on to the majority in both houses and in two more years after alabama, florida, texas and mississippi have endured total environmental devastation due to your drill baby drill i figure you will be lucky to get enough votes to keep arizona…..

  4. if ever there is a time to slow down and study things first before plunging ahead with further coal development in this state it is now.

    we can not trust corporations to make these decisions anymore . their self-interest and short term profit structures do not take into account the possibility of environmental degradation such as surface water and well water quality. this valley can ill afford contamination or disturbance of what little water exists in this area.

    good for Northern Plains Resource Council, the Wildlife Federation, Montana Environmental Information Center and the Sierra Club for challenging the Otter Creek coal lease approval. let’s hope that the courts can provide some reason in a process that so far, has been dominated by blind trust in corporate responsibility and quick bucks.

    • Big Swede

      Hey if ya don’t like corporations pb you can just seize them.

      • all the right wing noise machine snarky snide links in the world won’t erase the growing anger of the american public over this stupidity and greed caused catastrophe, swede.

        if you place trust in corporations who only want short term profits in order to realize quarterly gains, they will cut corners and skirt safety precautions.

        if we keep rewarding bad behavior in this country we can expect more of it. it is time to throw some rope over a stout limb and hang some ceo’s and then enact real regulations of big oil and coal producers in this country to assure compliance with latest state of the art safety requirements.

        your neanderthal ways are not long for this world swede and ayn.

    • Big Swede

      Wow, I just didn’t realize how interconnected my first post was.

      The Sierra Club is intertwined with Earth First. Crybabies in the first comment are now lawyering up.

      >The Sierra Club-Earth First! ties are especially strong in Oregon. Mick Garvin, a self-described “long-time Earth First!er,” has chaired a local Sierra Club chapter in Oregon and currently serves as Oregon Chapter Executive Committee Delegate. Garvin was also an inaugural board member of The Alliance for Sustainable Jobs and the Environment. The Alliance was co-founded by former Sierra Club executive director David Brower, and has received funding from the Club. Garvin was a leader and spokesman at Earth First!’s nearly year-long blockade and protest of timber harvests at Warner Creek in Oregon. He is also a principal in the protest group Cascadia Forest Defenders, whose website boasts: “We participate in direct action campaigns [sic], including tree-sits.” On April 12, 2002, a 22-year-old woman protesting for Cascadia Forest Defenders plummeted to her death while tree-sitting.<

  5. bloodyknife

    Swede, that was hilarious. You sure know how to get them wailing. I wonder if they are so mad at Big Oil that they have parked their cars are started walking.

    • What’ hilarious is you being impressed with BS’s posting of a video “gotcha” reply and your own they-should-quit-driving comment.

      Both took all the brain cells of an ant.

      I shouldn’t care about oil and gas because I drive a car? I shouldn’t care about coal because I turn lights on? Honestly, you should be ashamed that your grasp of issues that most scientists the world over agree upon amounts to 10-second sound bites.

  6. pj

    Earthjustice issued a press release on the lawsuit the other day. In addition to the constitutional question, they mentioned this little tidbit:

    “Including the adjacent private coal tracts, also leased by Arch Coal, the proposed Otter Creek mine will exploit a 1.3 billion ton coal reserve, making it one of the largest coal mines in North America. Arch Coal has suggested that it may export Otter Creek coal to feed a growing demand in Asian countries.”

    • Lizard

      that quote highlights the biggest misnomer about developing domestic coal and oil: doing so affects our dependence on foreign sources.

      there is no such thing as foreign or domestic energy. there are global markets where these finite resources are sold, and they are sold to whoever can pay for it.

      on a sidenote, pen & teller have a showtime show called bullshit, and their latest episode attacks the vigorous opposition toward nuclear power. they actually make a pretty could case that developing new domestic nuclear power is the only viable alternative to our addiction to dwindling fossil fuels.

  7. Montana Cowgirl

    Good post. I think that it should also be mentioned that this is kind of a slap in the face to AG, Montana’s largest industry.

  8. Underlying this post is the fact the it took Democrats to approve Otter Creek. If we do not have two parties, we do not have much of a chance to affect anything through the political process.

    That leaves the courts. Environmentalists catch a lot of hell for using the courts to achieve their ends. The criticism is unfounded. Were they to rely on the political system, the screwing we get would be total.

    Do take note that in electing Lindeen and McCulloch you only get yourself some third-rate people. A political system that requires that rewards people for being duplicitous will produce third-rate leaders. And they are everywhere.

  9. Montana Cowgirl

    Libertarians also acknowledge the courts as an important part of checks and balances.

  1. 1 The Crisis Is Here, Now What Are We Going To Do About It? « 4&20 blackbirds

    […] talk is cheap (like the price per ton of Otter Creek coal, right Gov?), and actions speak louder than […]

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