Does Coal Cash Turn Protestors into Hippiecrites?

by lizard

Hippiecrite is a word I just made up. Here’s the definition of a hippiecrite: environmentalists who complain about stuff they benefit from. Like, if you complain about the Keystone XL pipeline, but you drive a car and take warm showers, then you might be a hippiecrite.

That’s the gist of this Missoulian article, titled While coal trains draw Missoula protests, coal money doesn’t.

Activists have protested coal trains coming through Missoula.

The many projects that coal money support here are another matter.

Coal is the source of the Big Sky Economic Development Trust Fund, which has provided millions of dollars in economic support for some of Missoula’s homegrown businesses since its creation by the Montana Legislature in 2005. Think TerraEchos and Rivertop Renewables.

“I think that the funds Missoula receives are extremely important in terms of economic development,” said City Councilwoman Caitlin Copple, who has sought Big Sky funds to support the council’s economic development efforts. “Does that mean I’m a big fan of fossil fuels? No. But the reality is we live in a state where energy is a really important part of our economy.”

Notice the nice quote from Copple. Fresh off her failed effort to push unsightly homeless alcoholics out of downtown and into parks and neighborhoods (so people without penises can feel safe) Copple is positively framing the coal money that makes any Missoulian concerned about toxic coal dust a hippiecrite.

Maybe Caitlin Copple isn’t informed about the recent history of coal in Montana. Luckily this is a topic covered extensively here at 4&20, mostly by jhwygirl. Here is some suggested reading:

If Coal is Such an Economic Superman…

Big Sky High Students Stage Walkout over Otter Creek Coal

Will Otter Creek Coal Become More Corporate Welfare?

Corporate Welfare Reigns Supreme: Land Board Votes Yes to Lower Bid Price on Otter Creek Coal

The Schizophrenia Within our Montana Coal Cowboy Governor Brian Schweitzer

Montana Coal Porn Spring 2011

First Jobs Report on Pro-Coal Legislation at the Legislature

What Will Coal Exports Mean for Bozeman Montana?

Water and Coal and Conflicting Sentiments from a Missoula City Council Person

Of Course Tim Fox Shills for Coal, He’s a Montana Politician

As you can see, there is a lot to be critical of when it comes to coal in Montana. But if you do, then you’re a hippiecrite, even you Northsiders who live along the tracks.

Luckily for a “progressive” politician like Caitlin Copple, people who live along railroad tracks don’t have the economic clout to derail her bid to get money for economic development. Let them breathe toxic dust while our local politicians figure out how to spend the coal cash.

Hey, I know, maybe the city of Missoula can use coal money for the legal defense of the unconstitutional ordinances the Montana ACLU will litigate over?

  1. Big Swede

    Maybe the homeless can ride the coal trains outta here.

    Like hobos.

  2. JC

    Hippiecrites… uh huh.

    Not Keila’s best writing. When she makes statements like her opening:

    “Activists have protested coal trains coming through Missoula.

    The many projects that coal money support here are another matter.”

    You know she has thrown all journalistic integrity out the window. My first thought was, how about TerraEchos? If economic development like that is emblematic of how coal trust funds are going to be utilized, then I don’t want anything to do with the program:

    “TerraEchos is a next-generation big-data analytics company.”

    Yeah, TerraEchos put Missoula on the map as just another cog in the NSA/CIA surveillance web. One just needs to read a snippet from an article about Kairos, and you get a sense of how our state legislators have facilitated liquidating Montana’s resources as another avenue to funding the military-industrial complex:

    “TerraEchos Inc. has licensed the Bayesian Data Reduction Algorithm (BDRA) and foundational patents from the U.S. Naval Undersea Warfare Center to enhance the real-time signal analysis and classification capabilities of the Kairos™ technology platform.”

    Yes, our coal dollars at work. With investments like that, it is just a matter of time till global warming is the least of our worries in the new global surveillance economy.

    Thanks for the opening lizard… I can just vent here in the comments instead of writing up my own piece. ;-)

  3. Big Swede

    To the subject of Hippiecrites.

    Maybe you millennials are being a bit too theatrical.

  4. JC

    Ok, here are some more recipients of funds from the Big Sky Development Trust Fund to go with the TerraEchos company I referenced above:

    Integrated Security Solutions (ISS)

    “Providing the highest level of integrated security protection to commercial, state and federal agencies around the globe.”

    Emteq — just another government military subcontractor:

    “Serving the air transport, government systems, corporate, Head-of-State/VIP and helicopter markets, EMTEQ offers an extensive selection of high quality, innovative products and services including cabin comfort, interior and exterior lighting, and aircraft systems and integration.”

    Nomad Global Communication Solutions – there’s a theme evolving here:

    “Nomad’s premier line of Mobile Command Vehicles includes the Dispatch, Responder and IC platforms. Nomad provides Command Centers to local, state and federal law enforcement…”

    Spika Welding & Manufacturing

    “Spika is recognized as a leader of the industry. Our products are used by all branches of the military, including the National Guard, Army, Air Force, and Coast Guard. Other satisfied customers include various defense contractors (such as Lockheed Martin), aircraft manufacturers (including Sikorsky), and commercial aircraft maintenance facilities.”

    GlaxoSmithKline Biologicals – do we really need to mine coal to provide royalties to one of the world’s largest and most profitable pharmaceuticals?

    “Hamilton is where we produce monophosphoryl lipid A (MPL), an adjuvant developed by Corixa. MPL is an essential ingredient in many of the new adjuvant systems developed by GSK Biologicals. (read “highly profitable vaccines”)”

    Signal Peak Mine – who said tax coal revenues so a coal company could get a grant to mine coal was a good idea?

    “The Montana Land Board voted 5-0 to approve a lease of state-owned coal reserves to Signal Peak Energy as the company looks to expand its large Bull Mountains mine near Roundup. The application to lease nearly 12 million tons of coal reserves from the state was objected to by environmentalists and anti-coal activists who have questioned the fairness of the auction process. The opponents urged the state to pursue alternative energy rather than coal and argued for greater environmental review of the project.”

    General Electric Capital Corporation – i guess we need to give coal tax grants to one of the world’s largest financial corporations, too:

    “General Electric Capital (GE Capital) is a wholly owned subsidiary of General Electric and a provider of a select range of financial services and products to businesses of all sizes around the globe. “

    Summit Aeronautics Group – This grant made it lucrative enough for Boeing to acquire them to advance it’s military/industrial complex:

    “The Montana facility manufactures complex parts for the Boeing 737, 747, 767 and 787 models.”

    And all of the above projects were just from the 42 grants fro the job creation part of the Trust Fund. There are 207 Planning Projects with equally distasteful grants.

    So there you go, Kaila. Enough protest for you?

  5. Does it really matter? We’re already breathing coal dust that’s floating around in the atmosphere, coming over from places like China, and which we ourselves pulled out of the ground and gave to them.

    How about all that carbon we’re breathing in each summer when our forests catch on fire? It’s too late to do anything about that, other than stay inside. Unfortunately we haven’t found a way to make money off of that yet, like we have with coal.

    That coal tax trust fund ensures this state will have funding and the ability to make a balanced budget for years to come.

    Let’s say we stopped all coal production tomorrow, then what?

    If we didn’t sell it to the Chinese, what would they do?

    If Montana wanted to go clean, who would follow our lead?

    If we lose all the coal jobs in this state tomorrow, who’s going to step up to create new ones?

    No, I think we need coal, more than we’d like to admit. I don’t like it, but what else is there? I don’t see a lot of funding going for alternatives, and while UM does do some great work on alternatives, I just don’t see it taking off right away, at least soon enough to have an impact.

    If we were concerned about coal on the environment we should have done something 20 years ago. What can we do now that’s going to stop those forests from catching on fire each summer?

    I can’t think of a single thing.

    • JC

      You can’t use Coal Tax funds to balance the state budget. Here, look at where the appx. $50m per year goes.

      My premise is to defy the Missoulian reporter’s assertion that coal train protesters don’t protest where coal tax funds go. I think there is plenty of room to protest how coal tax revenue is invested and spent. And how the presence of that black gold under the soil influences politicians, and leads to shady state land board actions, among others…

      • Doesn’t the interest from the trust ensure we can pay for what we want? I think otherwise we’d have to cut spending or programs, or increase debt or taxes.

        • JC

          No, it doesn’t mean “we can pay for what we want.” 4 minutes from my post to yours doesn’t give you time to digest the pdf I linked to that shows how coal tax funds are distributed, invested and spent.

          The coal tax fund is not a slush fund for legislators or state administrators to apply to their pet project. And the history of the Fund is fraught with battles and corruption.

          • I’m sorry I offended you with my ignorance.

            • JC

              I’m not offended. I just think that the more that people get acquainted with the way the Montana Coal Tax Fund and our politics work, the better we can prevent the next incarnation of copper baron politics in this state.

              I’ve been following the stuff all my life, and it can still be daunting to understand it.

              Coal is the new copper…

  6. Pogo Possum

    The coal dust is killing us issue is old news JC that lost traction and credibility after Strohmaier’s requested coal study found that after over 100 years of coal fired train engines followed by railroad cars hauling coal through the middle of this city there were negligible amounts of coal dust in the Missoula trains yards.

    Caitlin Copple, a liberal Missoula City Council member, deserves recognition for refreshing honesty and integrity in skipping the liberal spin and acknowledging the truth that coal tax dollars contribute millions to Montana’s (and Missoula’s) economy each year in the form funding for K-12 education, city and county infrastructure projects (drinking water, waste disposal, and bridge projects), infrastructure loans to local governments, financing for hospitals, law enforcement, nursing homes, schools, highways and Tribal projects, reduced property taxes, and reduced interest rates on state and school bonding.

    I am seriously considering voting for a Democrat the next time she runs for re-election.

    • JC

      Did I say anything about coal dust?

    • lizard19

      you think setting up the city for a lawsuit over an ordinance that wouldn’t have worked in the first place is refreshing? plenty of people don’t agree, her constituents included. she may need your vote, Pogo.

  7. Pogo Possum

    You are right. The coal dust was Lizard’s comment. My apologies.

  8. Pogo Possum

    Don’t worry Liz, a lot of Caitlin’s constituents solidly support her efforts. Her vote to help protect people who live, shop and work in downtown Missoula will help solidify that support. She and other Council members are acknowledging a problem that is obvious to many and are trying to find solutions. The City Council has the option of amending the ordinance so that it meets the recent court ruling but still helps address the growing problems that visitors, shoppers and store owners have to deal with on a daily basis. Pretending it isn’t a problem isn’t a solution.

    • lizard19

      Pogo, if you put a marble in a jar with a hole in the bottom, and the marble falls out, the solution is NOT putting more marbles into that broken-ass jar.

      I am certainly not pretending that aggressive, unsafe behavior isn’t a problem. as the ACLU rep pointed out, there are laws that pertain to disorderly conduct that could be applied. why aren’t they being applied? and why have the initial ordinances, passed 4 years ago, not curbed the behavior? do you really think amending an already flawed approach is going to help solve anything?

      the broken-ass jar in my little analogy represents the systems these trouble makers cycle through—the county jail and the ER being the main two. the capacity of those systems must be addressed first, and that work is being done with the 10 year plan to end homelessness.

      the reality is enforcement of these ordinances wouldn’t have worked even if there weren’t serious constitutional problems with them, which there are. not only is the amendment language toast, the ACLU might go for a bigger chunk of the original ordinances.

      oh yeah, and the city council that passed the amendments is not the same city council that will reconsider whether it’s worth spending taxpayer money to defend these ordinances in court.

      • Pogo Possum

        How about plugging the hole in the bottom of the jar for a start.

        Every non-profit organization serving people in need that I have been associated with over these many decades did not tolerate bad behavior and put rules in place to protect staff members, clients served and the general public. The City Council members are attempting to do the same.. The shoppers, workers, children and business owners in Missoula should not have to tolerate bad behavior either and have the right to feel safe when they walk the streets of our city.

        • lizard19

          when I was at River City Roots fest and approached by an aggressive, intoxicated individual while sitting on the sidewalk with my kids, I called 911. luckily I didn’t stand up and escalate the situation, because I know better. I had to later seek out a police officer, shaken up, to see if anything had happened. they told me police made contact and told him to stay away from downtown for the rest of the day.

          please answer this one question: why aren’t existing laws good enough?

          • Pogo Possum

            If they were “good enough” then people wouldn’t be complaining that they aren’t solving the problem.

            You are lucky the ACLU didn’t sue you for violating an individual’s first amendment right to insult you and express his right to tell you to get off of his corner.

            • lizard19

              I accept the limitations of law enforcement. if people feel unsafe downtown, they should call 911.

              • Pogo Possum

                Try to imagine you are a woman with a small child standing at an ATM and a group of aggressive looking panhandlers surround you and lean in as you pull your credit card out of your purse and insist you give them money. You aren’t going to pull out your cell phone and tell your child to ignore the dirty man drooling at her while you wait for the police to arrive. You are going to get the hell out of there and remind yourself not to go down town again. And if you do call the police, what are they to do since you and the ACLU don’t think aggressive panhandling next to an ATM should be prohibited.

                Try to imagine you are a small store owner who needs customers walking through the door everyday to pay the rent and utilities. Every day during the summer there are 3 to 5 new to Missoula transients camped out in front of your door, acting obnoxious, sleeping bags spread out, looking threatening and shoving a sign in the face of every person who tries to walk into the store. And every day you see potential customers (often women) approach your store who look at the obstacle course of panhandlers siting on the sidewalk by the door they have to get through and turn around and walk away knowing that is one more sale you won’t get and one step closer you are to going out of business.

                Again, you and the ACLU don’t think we should have laws that would even give a police officer the authority to order these panhandlers away from the door to allow people to pass through without fear or intimidation.

                I have had to intervene on numerous occasions in downtown Missoula and step between a woman pressed up against a car or building and an aggressive panhandler who was “asking” for a handout. He wasn’t touching her, he wasn’t saying he was going to harm her but he was scaring the hell out of her and her child. According to the ACLU, he was just exercising his constitutional rights to “ask” for money and no policeman should be allowed to arrest him or order him to stay out of the downtown area.

                Members of the City Council (a predominantly liberal leaning City Council I might add) are trying to give police the tools needed plug the hole in the bottom of the jar. They may have to amend these laws from time to time, but at least they are trying.

              • You make some very valid points.

  9. lizard19

    Pogo, why didn’t the existing ordinances address this issue? and what about the amendments would change the situations you describe?

    since you like anecdotal stories, how about the one Jon Wilkins described? he saw a homeless man kick his female drinking companion, who was passed out on the sidewalk by the courthouse, in the head. the cops were called, but she didn’t want to press charges, so they didn’t do anything. then the EMT’s came, and she refused their help, so they left her there, drunk, passed out on the sidewalk.

    should that woman then get a citation for laying on the sidewalk?

    enforcement of these ordinances won’t work, but it’s good to know people like you are willing to sideline constitutional guarantees in a futile attempt to ticket chronic alcoholics who probably got their daily booze from Grizzly Liquor or the Ox.

    maybe City Council should criminalize giving money to panhandlers and selling them alcohol.

    at the end of your last comment, you seem to imply city council are the only ones trying to do something about this. there are other people working on actual solutions. criminalizing sitting on the sidewalk is a pointless, unconstitutional effort that will just push this problem out of downtown and into the parks and neighborhoods outside the BID boundaries.

  10. Craig Moore

    Cheap, plentiful energy sources hold salvation for the poor.

    • larry kurtz

      The poor driving the least fuel-efficient vehicles, Craig, the poor your pope threw a lifeline to today?

      • Craig Moore

        For any pope and the priests of the Catholic Church to choose St. Francis to pattern their ministry after is a very good thing.

        … Pope Francis isn’t a Marxist or anything else for that matter. He’s a Pope, and a good one at that. His message isn’t against capitalism or any other ism for that matter. It’s a simple message, repeated both in deed and in action time and again, love one another as God loves us.

  11. steve kelly

    Coal severance tax was 30% until 1988. It was a mistake to reduce it to be more like Wyoming.

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