Congressional Candidate Kim Gillan’s Idea of Jobs is an Oil Spill on the Yellowstone?

by jhwygirl

It’s more than a bit shocking – regardless of your political persuasion, I’d like to think – when a state senator and a congressional primary candidate champions the short-term economic boom to the shops in downtown Billings that occurred when Exxon spilled crude from its pipeline into the Yellowstone River this past July.

That’s the kind of thing you’d expect our current Representative Denny Rehberg might say, given his love for oil & gas industry money – Representative Rehberg ranks 14th in receipts of oil & gas industry money of all recipients there in Washington.

Instead, it was state senator Kim Gillan (D-Billings) who made the remark at a forum for several of the candidates held by The Policy Institute this past weekend. I have tremendous respect for The Policy Institute. They’ve provided excellent policy testimony – especially on budget issues – to legislative committees. Frankly, it’s a bit surprising that Gillan would say such a thing given the audience.

During a Q&A moderated by former Representative Pat Williams, candidates were asked about the Keystone XL pipeline by TransCanada – whether they thought the pipeline was good or bad (or both) for the economy. Gillan was up first with her answer – and I wish I had some video or audio, but alas, audio and video were not permitted – and she said that “there are people in Billings that think the oil spill was a good thing, that it was good for business. They are looking at their watches and asking can we do this again next year?”

The room fell quite with shock. First murmurs…then low boos. What. Was. She. Thinking?

One also has to wonder the company she keeps. Where – even if she was attempting a joke – something like that were considered funny.

Somewhere along the line I read that Montana has the most EPA cleanup sites. The Milltown Dam to Anaconda cleanup is the largest cleanup site of all. Helena (her district) has a big old cleanup site they’re trying to figure out what to do with right now, doesn’t it?

I’m guessing Gillan thinks all that is good economic development too.

Her remarks have been bugging me since I heard about them – I’ve often pondered if there wasn’t a certain attitude in the legislature with regards to mining/oil/gas development that was a lot of “let it roll” combined with “it’ll be a big cleanup site in the future.” Her remarks lead me to believe that I just may not be completely cynical…that there’s actually some truth to what should be pure fiction.

Gillan ranks first in the Democratic field for pulling in cash ($124,145 this last Q), followed by Franke Wilmer ($107,117) and Dave Strohmaier ($49,078). By comparison, Republican Steve Daine’s collected $546,327.

Yeah. Over a half a million buckaroos, Montana.


Gillan’s out for me with this kind of news. At least this cleared up any lingering doubts I had about being open to persuasion.

Dave Strohmaier, for his part, has done quite well, picking up a number of endorsements. Strohmaier’s also been hard working and well received around the state. At this weekend forum he got glowing reviews. His answer to the Keystone XL question called for more thorough economic and environmental studies – and he questioned the moving target on the number of long-term jobs it would create.

Franke Wilmer is a strong candidate, having served 3 legislative sessions in the House, representing moderate Bozeman. She’s a scrapper, too – just read her biography).

On Keystone XL, Wilmer pointed out that if “you take the jobs out of the pipeline, no one likes the pipeline.” She went on to point out this is the reason we need to strengthen our unions. “If we had a stronger unions to negotiate for clean jobs,” said Wilmer, “this wouldn’t even be an issue.”

Thank Goddess these two got it right.

  1. Pogue Mahone

    Bizarre. Does Gillian truly beleive that everyone in Montana is retarded? Apparently so. What a pathetic candidate.

  2. Chuck

    You aren’t cynical Jpgrl maybe just in a bubble.
    The money that flows to environmental response efforts is legend, perhaps only rivaled by the Forest Service pouring money into major fires. Nothing will turn an enterprising environmentalist boat owner quicker than a month of Exxon paying standby time for his boat . The small businesses in these communities are desperate for a paycheck and these events can support their families for the entire year.
    Exxon has built decades of good will in the state through their response to the pipeline accident. The support for them is wide ranging and across the political spectrum, except for Missoula.
    I know many on the left were hoping this spill would kill off big oil in the state but it hasn’t. It is the opposite and Gilliam was acknowledging this.
    The problem Gilliam and the other liberal candidates face is they have no ideas for economic development outside of government jobs and spending my kids money.

    • Pogue Mahone

      Who SHOULD spend your kids’ money, chuk? The Koch brothers? What the hell are your talking about. Please try to be more lucid. Us libs don’t understand foxspeak to well. You speak with Foxed tongue, dude! Do bring an interpreter next time!

      • lizard19

        maybe if he YELLED more and said STUPID, offensive SHIT you could understand him better.

        • LOL.

          Probably went over his head, but all the same…LOL.

        • Mark Miwertz

          Thanks lizard19. That’s twice you’ve stopped me from dropping ten floors and making a comment.

          jh, you did a pretty good job of putting the reply into context, so Kim needs to cowboy up and admit a mistake. That’s really all it takes, isn’t it? A bit of humility goes a long way.

          Steve Daines will have to do something really, really stupid to lose this race. Half of me doesn’t want Ms Wilmer to win the nomination because of that futility. Let Missoula or Billings wear itself out against the empire. But I’m sure she’s working hard and is deserving of being the democrats’ nominee.

        • Chuck


    • lizard19

      and those on the right showed how they despise economic development by trying to outright kill the medical marijuana industry.

      • That was the east side legislators killing our agricultural crop.

        We can’t screw with their oil and mining, but they can come in and screw with our agricultural development.

    • A spill? Really?

      Well – I’ll take your word for it. So…so they factor that kind of economic development in up front? With the economic analysis? You’re telling me that Keystone XL factored in a spill. every 10 years…as money into the state?

      Or is it economic development that’s kind of just thought about in the background like wishful thinking? A “bonus”, if you wlll?

  3. Montana Alice

    I was at the debate and felt Kim’s comment were meant a little more tongue and cheek than portrayed. Kim and Frankie answered the questions very well. This was the first time I have seen Dave S and I was impressed. But unfortunately he started off by saying he was a consummate progressive and proud of it. That might play well in a Dem primary, but it equals a loss in the general. We are a purple state and our general election candidates need to reflect that if we want to beat the Montana Teapublicans.

    I was the least impressed with Mr Stultz, but he was humorous at times.

    • I heard the debate too–and remember Gillan saying ‘If the pipeline is built, then it needs to be based on science, not politics.’ Coming from Billings, she seemed to know about what happens when old pipelines don’t get proper oversight. It was Diane who said to build first and worry about oil spills later.

      Dave was the only one who actually came out against Keystone, IMHO.

    • For the record, I did talk to a # of other people after hearing it the first time. This took a few days, so I did check around.

      Was she joking? I did ask that. The people I asked actually stopped to think…and the answer was no.

      After there were boos she didn’t clarify?

  4. error

    -Gillan (D-Billings)

  5. Ingemar Johansson

    My question is why didn’t this forum permit any audio or video recordings?

    Sounds like a secret meeting of The Skulls.

  6. Montana Alice

    It’s probably easier to get candidates to be a little more candid when they are not going to be on tv or quoted in the paper.

  7. jackruby

    Sounds like a tongue in cheek comment not something to get so worked up over, especially when you have no context for it. Besides im sure it was an accurate comment: do we really doubt that are people in Billings who probably enjoyed quite a bit of economic benefit from the spill?

    • Ingemar Johansson

      I know a farmer east of Pompeys Pillar who discovered some oil scum amongst some cattails in a backwater.

      Exxon came out inspected the site and promptly wrote out a check for $350K.

      Did he go out any bury the loot in the back yard? No, he purchased cattle and improvements for his farm.

      Accurate indeed.

      • Ed Kemmick

        Swede: To say I don’t believe your little yarn is a big understatement. Is it even remotely possible that your farmer friend has a name? I didn’t think so…

        • Ingemar Johansson

          I don’t have his permission to do so or I would.

          But you’re the investigative reporter. Why don’t you call Exxon and ask them how much they’ve spent for reclamation.

          I’m sure they’d love to brag ’bout it.

      • lizard19

        hmm, I’m beginning to understand the logic of deregulation. by freeing up the profit motive from the hindrance of safety standards and regulatory oversight you create better conditions for corporate malfeasance, so when a disaster happens you can extract monetary concessions from the offending corporations.


      • jackruby

        Im talking about the business owners and/or contractors in town who cashed in from the influx of activity associated with the cleanup. I really doubt exxon is going to voluntarily put any of the landowners in a better position economically than they would have been without the spill.

  8. ladybug

    An economy designed by politicians primarily to create jobs is wasteful. Subsidized overproduction and misallocation of resources result in compounding problems greater than the simple problem of relatively higher unemployment.

  9. Mark Miwertz

    Well, I trust jh’s investigation and instinct on this one, but for conversation:

    In the interests of granting “good intent” it could be that Kim’s comment was along the line of a hailstorm or other minor disaster stimulating a local economy. It’s a bit tongue in cheek, because it’s not productive.

    But there’s a frustration out here that neither Congress nor legislature, nor White House nor State House has really done a damn thing for anyone but themselves and their political masters, whether big unions or Soros or Koch or Goldman.

    And I can see a “thankful for the disaster; my kids’ only chance for a job is cleaning up their messes”. wry, dry, all too painfully true comment.

    And, if that’s not what she meant, it’s what I mean.

  10. Yeah, and people wonder why Obama said Republicans don’t care about pollution. Not his exact words. I agree, no reason for him to back off that. I know he meant Republican leadership. As long as it makes money, so what if people and animals die.

    • Mark Miwertz

      “…it was state senator Kim Gillan (D-Billings) who made the remark at a forum…”

      Eh, Rusty?

      Sometimes sarcasm on the internet is so elevated I’m too stupid to see it, and maybe I’m missing your point, but I’m not sure what the original post, about Kim Gillan, D-Billings, has to do with Republicans’ attitudes towards pollution.

  1. 1 Gopher attacks Gillan, brings positive attention to competition

    […] is a pretty heavy-handed attack on Kim Gillan, but there is absolutely no mention of Gopher in the post.  In fact, the post goes on to praise Franke Wilmer and, in particular, Dave Strohmaier. Dave […]

  2. 2 Democratic Congressional Candidate Forum – Butte, April 3 « 4&20 blackbirds

    […] last candidate forum I wrote about, Kim Gillan touted oil spill disasters as a job creation industry for Montana, so who knows what can […]

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