The Billings Outpost

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

Whitefish

 

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

Bigfork

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

Billings

Last Updated on Thursday, 06 November 2014 11:12

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Public parks for people

Please maintain responsible stewardship and keep the dogs out of Billings’ parks.

There’s already too much dog feces and illegal, unsafe dog traffic in our public parks. Please don’t let a vocal minority of dog owners with savvy social networking further erode the quality of our parks.

Social scientists tell us we’re living in a current golden age of narcissism and exceptionalism: “The laws don’t apply to me.” The current laws for dog owners aren’t regularly followed or enforced now.

The Forest Service adopted this useful guideline back in 1905: “Where conflicting interests must be reconciled, the question shall always be answered from the standpoint of the greatest good of the greatest number in the long run.”

Our treasured public parks are valuable shared resources held in “common.” Where the “commons” are not actively protected from a minorities’ short-term selfish interests at odds with long-term collective interests, the outcome is predictable. History has sadly chronicled the familiar “tragedy of the commons” where shared resources get degraded and depleted.

Please don’t let our parks “go to the dogs.”

Greg Jahn

Billings

Last Updated on Thursday, 06 November 2014 11:11

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Consider public lands transfer

As a U.S. Forest Service retiree, I know the benefits of a well managed forest. Over the last 20-plus years, I have seen the federal government’s “on the ground” forest management deteriorate. Lack of timber sales and excessive access closures have not served the public or the resource well.

Many years ago I helped found Montanans for Multiple Use as a way to involve the public in the decision making process of forest planning. We opposed the Forest Service spending public funds to rip out dozens upon dozens of perfectly good access routes. We won’t accept the Forest Service reduced timber harvest and  bad land management practices. We have lost our access and have overgrowth that causes unstoppable wildfires. That day is upon us and it is time for change.

Montanans For Multiple Use advocates responsible, balanced use of public land. The Forest Service has destroyed multiple use roads, restricted access reserving our public lands for a select few. Today’s Forest Service is controlled by out of touch Washington DC bureaucrats, liberal judges, and environmentalists who don’t care about balance or have a clue how to achieve healthy forests.

For many years MFMU has tried working with the Forest Service in good faith to protect access and achieve a forest managed for all citizens, a showcase of forest health, and a healthy economy.  But still they keep destroying access, making it harder to manage the land, fight fires, hunt, recreate, or gather firewood and berries. Today the Forest Service sells only 15 percent of the merchantable timber as specified in the approved forest plan.

The solution is change. It’s time to give serious consideration to turning federal public land over to the state of Montana so people in Montana are accountable to the citizens for management of our public land, our access, and our economy.

This fall, Montanans for Multiple Use plans to sponsor an open, professionally moderated debate to air out both sides of the Transfer of Public Lands issue. As soon as the date is set everyone will be invited.

Clarence Taber

Montanans for Multiple Use

Kalispell

Last Updated on Thursday, 06 November 2014 11:11

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