Governor Schweitzer’s Two-Step

by lizard

John Adams put a great post up yesterday at The Lowdown about our go-get’em Governor pulling out state involvement in the “Unified Command Team” overseeing the mitigation efforts of Exxon’s oil spill.

Gov. Brian Schweitzer on Thursday said the state is pulling out of the unified command team overseeing the cleanup of oil from a ruptured ExxonMobil pipeline that leaked an estimated 1,000 barrels of crude oil into the Yellowstone River late last Friday.

Schweitzer accused ExxonMobil officials of not being transparent about the extent of the oil spill and the resulting cleanup effort.

“We’re actually pulling out of the incident command with ExxonMobil because they are refusing to be transparent with the public,” Schweitzer said in an interview Thursday. “They have security guards that don’t let the press in. They’re telling our Department of Environmental Quality officials that the documents that we’re sharing are not public documents, and I have said we will not be involved in an organization like that so we’re pulling out.”

It’s easy to cheer on the Governor in moments like these. When disaster strikes, and national attention descends on Montana, he’s great at spit-shining his belt buckle, adjusting his bolo tie, and saying what needs to be said.

But those words are being issued from just one of Brian’s faces; like most talented politicians, multiple faces are required to employ in different situations.

To exemplify this, it might be illuminating to compare and contrast the letter Governor Schweitzer sent Sherman Glass, president of Refining and Marketing at Exxon Mobile, demanding that any possible evidence in a (probably impending) future litigation case be preserved. It’s a good move, and sends strong notice to Exxon that the State of Montana is serious about looking into any possible criminal negligence, and holding those parties accountable (you can find the letter to Glass at The Lowdown).

But when the cameras and journalists leave after this story runs its course, and we look to future energy development in the state of Montana, what face will the Governor use?

This letter to Hillary Clinton states it pretty clearly: the full steam ahead one.

To: The Honorable Hillary Clinton,

Secretary of State

Like the Obama Administration, I am passionate about increasing domestic energy production. It is absolutely critical to our economic well-being, but even more important for our national security. Recent world events only underline the sense of urgency with which this country must act to secure and diversify its energy supplies from both renewable and traditional resources.

Completion of the Keystone XL pipeline project is an important component of an action plan that will increase our nation’s supply of conflict-free oil. I understand the need for the recent State Department decision to require a supplemental EIS for certain aspects of the project that need further analysis. I also agree that this project must be completed properly and in an environmentally responsible manner. At the same time, I strongly urge the State Department to complete its analysis and permitting activities as expeditiously as possible. The State of Montana is moving full speed ahead and will rapidly complete its environmental reviews. We will be able to provide to you the information necessary for the State Department to complete its own final environmental impact statement.

I expect that Keystone XL will pass muster with all federal and state environmental regulations, and I hope TransCanada can proceed to construction without undue delay.

Our nation’s addiction to unfriendly oil is a grave concern, both economically and from a foreign policy perspective. I believe that Montana, along with our neighboring states and provinces, can continue to provide commonsense solutions that will eventually eliminate the export of $1 billion each day to petro-dictators.

If there is any additional assistance I can provide concerning permitting of the Keystone XL project, please let me know. We will be doing our part here in Montana, and look forward to the Department of State completing its processes as soon as possible. I will inform you as soon as we complete our environmental reviews.

Brian Schweitzer,

Governor of Montana

With this face, Brian Schweitzer likes to champion the tar sands (and the Keystone XL pipeline) as conflict-free oil, and will pompously tell environmental activists and hollywood celebrities (like James Cameron) that

…he is tired of environmentalists and Hollywood celebrities such as Cameron “blowing smoke” when it comes to the oil sands.

“I would say this is conflict-free oil and I don’t want to send one more son or daughter from Montana to defend an oil supply from one of these dictators and become dependent on that energy supply,” he said in an interview with the Canadian Press from his office in Helena.

“Someday, I would say to him, we will not need the hydrocarbons. Someday we will run all electric cars. But in the meantime we need energy and the safest supply right now is coming from places like Alberta.”

Safe is a relative word when it comes to what some claim is one of the most environmentally destructive projects on earth.

Putting aside the contentious claim that the tar sands is “conflict-free” for a moment, the part of the letter to Clinton I find most troubling is this:

I expect that Keystone XL will pass muster with all federal and state environmental regulations, and I hope TransCanada can proceed to construction without undue delay.

Really Governor?

With the still unfolding local disaster of tens of thousands of gallons of oil that seeped into the Yellowstone, what additional assurances can the Governor give the citizens of this state that federal and state environmental regulations will “pass muster”. And if they don’t, what resources are at the Governor’s disposal to make sure TransCanada (a company already running into trouble with a few Eastern Montanans?) complies?

I think those are fair questions; ones I hope the Governor considers during the remaining time he has as Governor, and beyond.


  1. Pogue Mahone

    Time to rethink the tar sands thing maybe? How bout wind and renewables? But better yet, how bout we just KEEP all our power here first and lower our OWN costs. There is nothing better for clean jobs than low cost power. Let’s take care of Montana first, a sort of energy secession if you will. THAT is what I’d do as gov. You wanna come to Montana to do business? Well then, you do it on OUR terms! Or take your sorry ass to Wyoming where they don’t GIVE one sh*t bout no eco regulations.

    • If Schweitzer had a brain he’d be figuring a way for start-ups to utilize the Bakken basin Oil – $ for R & D and Start-ups. Not exactly Green BUT if we tap into the oil here and use for Montana pnly at near nothing per gallon – refined here of course. There’s enuff oil here and in the basin next door N.Dak to last the USA for a hundred years at current consumption. The lower cost would be benificial for so many other projects.
      Declaring the resouces in Montana as Belonging to the People – No More Capitalist Swine Stockholder model – the monetary returns would go to the people of MT.

  2. Keep in mind Brian Capitalist Schwietzer was until it went stealth a bonified member of the DLC the Neo-lib Democratic Leadership Council that ranks easily with the CFR Council on Foreign Relations.
    Actually Brian has only one face the Capitalist Pig face. Though it’s important to see and expect him to put the screws to Exxon i have not yet seen the CRUCIAL point made by him: Why didn’t they Shut the Pipe off??? When he comes to that i’ll send him some kudo’s.
    His backing of the Keystone pipeline is evidence of his Capitalist Swine action.

  3. Ingemar Johansson

    He’s got your vote for Maxie’s seat.

  4. Kyle

    There is just something in progressive/liberal DNA that causes them enjoy attacking each other more than attacking Republicans. We don’t even have to wait for Republicans to rebut Schweitzer, we’ve already got leading liberals creating strawmen for them. We don’t need to help them blur the message- that was a clear message, and now it is completely muddled with “What about this other thing?” nonsense. Good God.

    • interested party

      liz got the story right: at least Governor Schweitzer is an earth hater only half of the time. For the GOP: it’s slash and burn 24/7.

    • Hmmmm.

      You might be onto something there. And do read the comments. They’re somewhat priceless.

      • Kyle

        If the shoe fits…

        • I wasn’t disagreeing with you at all.

        • schweitzer’s my guy to beat max baucus in 2014. but i see nothing wrong with telling the truth about him. he is what he is.
          liz nailed him.

          what i don’t get is all this interest in nuance. people are entitled to opinions around here without worrying about party conformity.

          those who don’t like freedom of expression are welcome to go back to their private clubs, secret handshakes etc.

          • It isn’t an interest in nuance, except to those who think the unrelated topic has bearing. Telling “the truth” about any person walking is just more subjective manipulation of the topic, especially prevalent when dealing with an elected representative.

            Either Schweitzer is doing the right thing about the Exxon oil spill or he isn’t. His stance about Exxon in any other context is irrelevant, except to those seeking some geek kind of cred (read the link I posted, please.) To think the unrelated is somehow relevant is “nuance”, and one has to wonder why the interest in such would be blamed on those who didn’t bring such up in defense of those who did. Is Schweitzer doing the right thing regarding the oil spill or not? Lizard seems to think so, except that he didn’t do the “right thing” (in Lizard’s view) regarding other things. Notice, that doesn’t negate or any way change the fact that Schweitzer is doing the right thing now. It’s just some way to blame the man for whatever gives the blamer a sense of satisfaction.

    • lizard19

      Kyle, adhering to party messaging is not my concern. what does concern me is this pernicious tendency by extractive industries to lie, cut corners, lie some more, ignore regulations, bribe politicians, and do whatever it takes to make more money, with possible criminal disregard for the unnecessary risk to the environment and the lowly peons living along the path of their aging infrastructure.

      Governor Schweitzer is kicking some ass right now, and hopefully his high-profile actions puts some serious pressure on Exxon. he certainly plays action-figure governor better than Bobby Jindal did during BP’s befouling of the gulf (i haven’t seen much of his National exposure yet).

      That doesn’t mean it’s not appropriate to bring a little attention to Schweitzer’s vigorous support for a massive pipeline project that has the potential to cause more harm when (not if) something goes wrong.

    • JC

      Eh. Spare us the Southparkian political analysis. Cartoon characters are much better left alone to play out their roles so we can all have a good laugh.

      Actually, I find your comment quite hypocritical–lambasting progressives/liberals for attacking each other while… attacking progressives/liberals.

      Of course, if you’re not a progressive/liberal, my apologies. Maybe you just play one on tv. Pretender.

  5. Dem Antidote

    Interesting. I did not know where you were going with this. You seemed to have offered some needed balance, praising him where praise is due, but not ignoring that other face.

  6. notice how the corporate machine goes on humming undisturbed while the political circus keeps us all distracted in the punch and judy puppet show.

    montana is a gnat buzzing about the whiskers of the exxon tiger. it barely even notices us much less our governor. it also knows that news stories die out in two weeks.

    meanwhile,….. the sky around the yellowstone blackens as the lawyers descend.

    exxon is only worried about two things; exposure and containment.
    and neither of those things have anything to do with gathering oil.

  7. Change my comments all you want, asshole. You won’t make my points any less valid. Disagreement is evil in your world. You prove it by attempting to make it mine.

  8. lizard19

    I have locked this thread due to off-topic trolling.

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