Gazette Opinion: Lawmakers can still help region impacted by oil boom

With the Bakken drawing people to Eastern Montana, demand is far outstripping small towns' capacity for sewer, water, streets, law enforcement and other public services. House Bill 218 was passed by the 2011 Legislature to help local governments impacted by oil-and-gas development improve public infrastructure and services that are being overwhelmed by throngs of new residents and businesses. Sponsored by Rep. Duane Ankney, R-Colstrip, HB218 passed the Senate 48-2 and the House 93-6. Those lawmakers who supported HB218 in April must vote for it again by June 10 so it can become law. Gov. Steve Bullock vetoed this popular legislation, along with numerous other spending bills in his effort to maintain a $300 million balance in the stateís checking account at the end of the next biennium in summer 2015.



Guest Opinion: Bakken oil travels safely by rail, pipeline

Citizens of Montana, the Dakotas and states farther south are seeing more tanker cars than they have in years and there's a very good chance they soon will see construction crews building a new pipeline. The public deserves to know that both railroads and pipelines have major roles to play in our country's quest for energy independence -- and, most importantly, both are safe.



Guest Opinion: Baucus should oppose punitive oil-and-gas taxes

What does Sen. Max Baucus' upcoming departure mean for the issue of tax reform? After all, he has often been regarded as a political moderate whose tenure as Finance Committee chairman was highly influential. For hard-pressed working families and businesses struggling to grow and create jobs, the question is not academic. Presently, with Baucus no longer facing what could have been a tough 2014 campaign, the focus shifts to what kind of tax reform becomes likely now that the clock is winding down on his dealmaking ability. This in turn cuts across many other debates, from the "sequester" spending pullbacks to the problem of how to get our country's debt under control.



Bay Ltd. lands new contract, begins hiring in Billings

Bay Ltd., a Texas-based company that has been supplying the Canadian oil sands with steel structures fabricated at its Billings plant, has begun hiring workers after landing a new contract.



There's Twice as Much Oil Below North Dakota than We Thought

Don't expect the energy boom in Montana and the Dakotas to end anytime soon.



Interior chief Jewell: 'One size doesn't fit all' on fracking

Interior Department Secretary Sally Jewell, a former drilling engineer in Oklahoma, said: "Fracking as a technique has been around for decades... I have performed the procedure myself very safely."



Keystone XL Support Strong at public hearing

Despite spring snow, more than 1,000 people stood in line in Grand Island, NE to speak at the only public hearing on the State Departmentís latest environmental analysis of the Keystone XL pipeline. Support isnít localized to Nebraska. Bloomberg talked to Ronnie Hill, a union welder from Texas, who drove 11 hours to speak in favor of the pipeline. Hill underscores the strong union support for the pipeline that would move Canadian oil to refineries on the Gulf Coast because of the jobs produced. The State Department estimates that over 40,000 jobs would be created.



Bill to fund infrastructure, other programs in oil-gas-impacted counties headed for approval

HELENA -- Cities, counties and schools in Eastern Montana affected by the oil boom along the North Dakota-Montana border are one step closer to getting millions of dollars of state money to help pay for water, sewer and other projects. The Senate voted 47-3 to advance the bill, which will be heading back to the House for a final vote. If the House accepts some changes made by the Senate, the bill goes to Gov. Steve Bullock for his signature into law.



Baucus, Tester, Hoeven Introduce Bipartisan Plan to Approve Keystone AL Pipeline

Senators: "It's time to put Montanans to work on Keystone." Montana's U.S. Senators Max Baucus and Jon Tester teamed up with the North Dakota delegation to introduce bipartisan legislation today to approve the long-delayed Keystone XL pipeline. The bill is building on momentum following a fourth favorable State Department environmental review indicating "no significant impact to the environment." Joining them as cosponsors on the bill are Senators Mark Begich (D-Alaska), Lisa Murkowski (R-Ala.), Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) Mary Landrieu (D-La.), David Vitter (R-La.), Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) and James Risch (R-Idaho).



Legislation offers new angle in battle over Keystone pipeline

Proponents of the Keystone XL Pipeline flexed their muscle Wednesday at a congressional hearing over legislation to force approval of the long-delayed project. The hearing didn't discuss whether the legislation, which would eliminate a requirement that the pipeline receive a presidential permit, could overcome a likely White House veto or pass constitutional muster. Instead, its supporters touted the 1,179-mile line as a job creator that would lower oil prices.