The Billings Outpost

Column gets it right

I would like to express my deep and sincere appreciation for David Crisp’s comments in the Editor’s Notebook that appeared in the Nov. 20 issue of the Outpost (“What? American voters stupid? How dare you”).

I do not know how many words Mr. Crisp used in expressing his opinion, but I can say that I am in full agreement with every one of them!

Given the discord that has occurred in Congress over the last six years between Republican and Democratic members of Congress and the amount of blatant, caustic and unjustified criticism many members have for our current president, it is very difficult for many of us to explain why the last election went the way it did.

It is also somewhat difficult for some of us to adequately express our feelings concerning those election results. Mr. Crisp, however, said it much better than I ever could. In fact, he took the thoughts right out of my head.

Larry Robson


Last Updated on Thursday, 27 November 2014 12:23

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Greed is pervasive

HR 1526 is a bill passed by the House of Representatives recommending transfer of public land management to the states. This land transfer is also recommended by Montana’s state and local Chambers of Commerce.

HR1526 is an effort by the wealthy to take public land from the middle class of this country. Do we want to end up like Texas where citizens have absolutely no opportunity to recreate on public land because only 1.9 percent of Texas is public land, where wildlife and resources are privatized? Texans have to pay for all those privileges that are free to Montanans.

Who would be adversely affected by transferring federal land to states?  Everyone  who uses federal land for any purpose be it wood cutting, grazing land lessees, access to private land, hunting, fishing, outfitting, skiing or just recreation. At present public lands do not create enough income to pay for maintenance and management. The federal government pays the shortfall.   Montana cannot afford such shortfalls. Montana would have to look for alternative ways to 1) increase income from undervalued properties, 2) decrease expenses, or 3) sell them. 

Those desiring to transfer federal properties to Montana know we cannot afford the associated costs.  They want to own our public land.

Once sold, few Montanans will be able to afford the benefits all Montanans currently enjoy.  The question for Montanans is:  how would a federal land transfer to Montana affect your family and your way of life?

Harold Johns


Last Updated on Thursday, 27 November 2014 12:23

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Carbon tax wouldn’t help

I don’t know what planet she lives on or what she smokes, but does Kristin Walser (Outpost, Oct. 30) really think that any of the “carbon tax” would ever be redistributed to all Americans? Past history pretty well shows what will occur if the tax were to become a reality.

First, all manufacturers using the taxed items would pass the cost of the tax on to consumers, thus raising the prices that consumers pay for the products, which in turn would reduce consumer spending on anything but the necessary.

Second, any tax collected by the government would be seen as more to be spent by the government and would be spent by the government, but not in the form of a rebate to the people.

A third thought comes to mind: Would the proposed rebate really offset the higher prices caused by the tax?

I think the Citizens’ Climate Lobby should put its efforts into a little publicized problem of carbon absorption: That is the increased reduction of plant life around the world that absorbs the CO2, stores the carbon and emits oxygen into the air.

Terry Wittmer

Sheridan, Wyo.

Last Updated on Thursday, 27 November 2014 12:22

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Homeowners, unite!

For the past several years the taxes that go to support cities, school districts, counties and our state government have become a major burden on homeowners. We should ask politicians their positions on protecting homeowners from shifting tax burdens onto us .

Having managed a business for some 44 years, as real estate taxes grew, I was able to make changes by improving operational efficiencies, charging more fees, paying less dividends, etc.

We homeowners don’t have those options as we are at the “beginning of the food chain” with no place to shift increasing taxes.

I have been before legislative committees a few times on this issue and have been insulted by our representatives telling me, “If you can’t pay your taxes, sell it.”

I have begun to wonder who represents us – the homeowners?  I always mistakenly thought it was those we sent to Helena. But I’m beginning to think they represent the 442 registered lobbyists and the government agencies – not us.

Where do homeowners fit in with timberland, agriculture, real estate speculators with 20-acre+ parcels? Those special interests all get tax breaks, as do businesses with the decreased business equipment and inventory tax.

Our homes are special places, very special, and they need to be treated as such – not the second homes, rental properties, recreational properties.

Suggested legislation should consider length of ownership and occupancy (five years), primary living quarters ten months per year, ability to register to vote where your home is located.

Since our elected officials give no consideration to homeowners, must we band together and hire a lobbyist to get noticed?  We shouldn’t need to, as we are a tremendous voting bloc.  How do we get their attention?

Charles R. Abell



Last Updated on Thursday, 27 November 2014 12:21

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Weigh in on ‘navigable’

The long dreaded redefinition of the word “navigable” as applied to “Waters of the U.S. is finally upon us. The deadline for comment is this coming Friday, November 14 at 11:59 p.m. The Washington DC Environmental Protection Agency office will be receiving phone calls at (202) 566-2428 and emails at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Claims of mud puddles, rain barrels, and seasonal drainage ditches falling under the rules and regulations of the federal government are not far-fetched. EPA has achieved the label of “mission creep” as it seeks to expand its jurisdiction over the nation’s waters. Not only are they confusing the term “navigable” but are seeking the science to claim connectivity between subsurface aquifers, wetlands and free-flowing streams. In their eagerness to gain control over “all” of this water they have violated state and federal constitutions and over-reached or bypassed congressional oversight.  Consequences would be extensive inflicting prohibitive economic costs onto private citizens and small businesses with ever more restrictions, ongoing inspections, monitoring and reporting demands. Water management and storage may become limited or prohibited impacting livestock and irrigation operations leading to increased food costs. Use of chemicals and fertilizers will be restricted not only for farm/ranch operations, but also for landscaping. All citizens will be impacted and need to take the time now to send in their comments opposing the proposed rule on “Definition of Waters of the United States Under the Clean Water Act,” Docket No. EPA-HQ-OW-2011-0880.

Clarice Ryan


Last Updated on Thursday, 13 November 2014 09:30

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More drilling testing needed

Although oil and gas companies would have you believe otherwise, the regulations they must follow while drilling do not protect landowners and their water supplies from contamination. They don’t even come close. The Energy Corp. of America has plans to “bring something like the Bakken” to the Beartooths. They’ve already begun the drilling process, and wells on private property are not being protected.

Right now, the best option for protecting private water supplies is for each landowner to pay hundreds of dollars for baseline testing of wells to show what chemicals are present in the water before drilling begins. Landowners must then pay to have wells retested on a regular basis (possibly for years) to learn if water has been contaminated.

And that is not enough. Oil companies don’t have to disclose what chemicals they use in fracking because the law protects that information as “trade secrets.” So even if testing shows contamination by a certain chemical, there is no way to prove the oil company used that particular chemical in the drilling process.

The oil and gas industry likes to say that fracking has never caused water contamination. That just isn’t true. Look at any news source out of North Dakota and you’ll see story after story of operator negligence contaminating the water. Toxic chemicals are spilled. Broken cement casings allow wastewater to leak around well bores. Uncapped wells leak methane and other chemicals that can get into groundwater.

There’s something wrong with the law in Montana when landowners have to pay to protect themselves from damage done by oil and gas development, which produces millions of dollars for the oil and gas companies. County commissioners should require every oil and gas operator to pay for regular testing and monitoring of all wells near a drilling site to prove they are not contaminated. This testing should be done by independent companies, not companies chosen by the oil and gas developers. It is a cost of doing business here in Montana, and it is necessary to protect our property rights.

Jane Moses


Last Updated on Thursday, 06 November 2014 11:12

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