The Billings Outpost

Coal an outlier

A recent letter extolling coal exports mentioned that “[t]echnology has greatly improved the ability of coal miners and other developers to adhere to environmentally sound methods of harvesting natural resources.”

The coal industry has been a steadfast opponent of limiting its environmental impacts. Why just last legislative session, the coal industry successfully lobbied to make Montana’s “look before you leap” environmental law (the Montana Environmental Policy Act) effectively unenforceable and to prevent anyone from looking at large scale environmental impacts, i.e., anything “regional, national, or global in nature” (Senate Bill 233).

Currently, the coal industry is an opponent of any law that requires it to account for its greenhouse gas pollution. And just last session the coal industry opposed increasing renewable energy in Montana.

Contrary to the letter, coal has long been an environmental outlier. And currently there is no economically viable method to control the most pressing pollution from coal – greenhouse gas pollution, which is altering the climate.

Charyn Ayoub


Last Updated on Tuesday, 03 July 2012 09:26

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Not a proud record

To senators and editors:

I want to express my disgust with the biased nature of your representation of Montana in Washington, D.C. It makes no sense to me that you chastise the Postal Service for making a business decision in an effort to consolidate rural post offices for fiscal reasons, yet the Senate has yet to pass a budget in more than 1,080 days. The budget to operate the federal government is the PRIMARY responsibility of the Senate, yet under the leadership (or lack thereof) of Harry Reid, the Senate has done nothing of merit in nearly three years. Is that a record to be proud of?

The Postal Service, to its credit, needs to make some tough decisions and cut costs to meet fiscal budgets. These business decisions are needed to maintain the health of a business, which the Postal Service has been expected to do as outlined by Congress. Postal Service executives have (no doubt) performed studies where best to make cost cutting measures to meet their fiscal budgets; yet you two fail to understand the bigger picture.  Either supplement the Postal Service with additional taxpayer dollars (which I am not in favor of) or allow the Postal Service to meet the goals and objectives outlined in its mission and serve the public as a business. You can’t have it both ways.

The Senate was more than happy to bail out the auto industry and Wall Street at the expense of the stockholders, bond holders, taxpayers and political correctness, and not allow the existing bankruptcy laws to be followed. Now the Senate does not wants to enable the Postal Service to do what legislation directs it to do, act fiscally responsible. The Postal Service is attempting to make prudent business decisions in efforts to decreased the hemorrhaging of costs; yet you two fail to understand how managers with fiscal responsibility to operate a business need to make sacrifices where necessary for the health of their organization.

The failure of the federal government to carry through with commitments seems to run deep. My wife and kids began to collect the newly minted President $1 coins and 25 cent state coins for their collections. We now learn the Treasury Department is not completing this program and banks can’t get the newly minted dollar coins. These coins are now only available at inflated costs beyond the face value from the U.S. Mint.

This is another example of where the government is failing to fulfill its commitments with a program it began. With the Postal Service there is an objective based of fiscal need; this is not true with the Treasury Department and the $1 coin.

Sam Miller



Last Updated on Tuesday, 03 July 2012 09:26

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Sorting through the mess

Our Montana philosopher-politician has emerged from his Outpost with his headlight on and his poison pen ready to dispatch enlightenment. He promises to “shine the light of truth” on “unknown campaigners.” Brad Molnar sorts through the candidates for the Montana Supreme Court.

He appears to be separating vegetables from fruits, placing them in liberal and conservative bins in his May 31 political cornucopia. In Molnar’s mixed potpourri, the candidates are either spoiled by special interests or are bruised by their prior decisions and endorsements. He laments that judges are lawyers and notes they are using campaign signs, billboards and clever slogans.

According to Molnar, “shadowy but known” movers (lawyers) are funding these judicial races. He doesn’t mention the contributions of other groups – energy, real estate and public officials.  Maybe Molnar is arguing for a truly democratic idea: Take money out of elections.

Nonetheless, I must take strong exception with Mr. Molnar’s vitriolic comments regarding Montana Conservation Voters. He states MCV’s postcards explain, “Why the liberal is the anointed one and the conservative (or rank and file Republican) candidates were elected by morons, should be shunned by their mothers and should never receive another vote.”

This statement is patently false and reflects Molnar’s perverse view of MCV and Montana politics. Maybe Molnar can provide more information for his readers on anointment, morons and parenting. However, there is one piece of truth in Molnar’s diatribe: MCV is a bipartisan organization.

I am a board member of MCV. MCV strives to protect our environment. It encourages strong citizen participation, supports recreational access and energy conservation. Montanans – Republicans, Democrats, independents, conservatives, moderates and liberals – are for clean air and water. MCV is committed to keeping Montana “The Last Best Place” for future generations.

Mr. Molnar’s cauldron bubbles with seeds of discord, half truths, distortions, and conspiratorial theories. His gloomy rhetoric runs counter to the optimism of our great people. Don’t despair!

Rumor has it Mr. Molnar has picked a trifecta: He is no longer using the drive-through window at fast food restaurants. He is no longer teaching a course on consensus building and improving communication skills. He is not blaming fellow Montanans for being term limited.

Robert M. Pumphrey



Last Updated on Saturday, 30 June 2012 11:20

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Event helped others

On March 24, Billings participated in the Walk for Water, our region’s only World Water Day event. Over 250 members of our community walked and approximately 100 volunteered to raise awareness of the world water crisis and to learn ways we can act locally to reduce global impacts. This year’s theme, The World is Thirsty Because We are Hungry, focused on the impacts of agriculture on water usage.

On behalf of the World Water Day Event Committee, a special thank you to all of our amazing volunteers who have made this event possible! Thank you to our major event sponsors St. Vincent Healthcare Foundation, Energy Laboratories, HydroSolutions Inc., ECHO Geophysical Corporation and Spence Accounts.

To everyone who participated in this year’s event, you have made a difference! Awareness was great and the funds raised will benefit water projects in Uganda and Tanzania. To learn more about these projects, visit

Nadine Hart



Last Updated on Friday, 22 June 2012 15:36

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Empty election promises

An empty promise is what Secretary of State Linda McCulloch is offering Montanans with her recycled election fraud website. It is a disservice to the people of Montana because it leads them to believe that there is redress of their grievances now available.

Currently, the secretary has neither the resources nor the authority to investigate or prosecute allegations of election fraud. The only action the secretary can take is to refer it to the appropriate county attorney.

Historically, referral has been pointless. Fifty complaints in the last election cycle resulted in no legal action being pursued. Hyping this “remedy” to election cheating creates two undesirable consequences. Law-abiding citizens are lulled into a false sense of security and those who would cheat the system realize they can do so with impunity.

The secretary bears no greater responsibility than to preserve the integrity of our elections. As secretary of state I requested the introduction of a bill that would have made willful election fraud a felony. Some argue that we do not currently have a crisis in our elections so we don’t need further vigilance. This mindset suggests that we don’t need to lock our houses because we’ve never been robbed.

Rather than recreating do-nothing web sites, the secretary should be working to put real teeth in our election laws. Good government in Montana depends on the preservation of fair elections. Instead of political posturing, we need tough enforcement and stiff penalties for those who violate our election laws. 

Brad Johnson

Former Secretary of State

East Helena


Last Updated on Friday, 22 June 2012 15:35

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Caring about the sick

I heard a pretty good slogan recently. “Obamacare is a hell of a lot better than ‘I don’t care.’” That pretty much says it all.

Those who oppose Obamacare simply don’t care. They have no plan. They don’t care what happens to the 30 million people who don’t have and cannot obtain health insurance. Their solution is, “Don’t get sick and if you do, file bankruptcy.” What a heartless, cruel, compassionless attitude.

If this is the attitude of a majority of the people in this country, we are about to lose the greatness of this country and do not deserve to lead the world anymore.

The Affordable Health Care Act is not perfect. In fact, it was not the first choice of most Democrats. Any form of a single-payer system would be much better. Medicare works amazingly well and could easily be expanded.

But since nearly all Republicans and many independents would not accept a single-payer system, Democrats went to the Republican plan adopted in Massachusetts by Republican Gov. Mitt Romney. But then Republicans disavowed their own plan and forced Mitt Romney to do the same if he wanted the Republican nomination for president.

If you don’t like the current system that gives everything to the insurance companies, let’s adopt a simple single-payer system. In any event you have got to be for something. The status quo that existed before the Affordable Health Care plan was enacted is unacceptable. If you don’t like Obamacare, what is your alternative?

Thomas E. Towe



Last Updated on Friday, 22 June 2012 15:34

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