Seeley Swan Pathfinder -

Rocky Mountain Adventure Gear - For all Your Motorized and Non-Motorized Adventures!

Identifying Problems and Finding Solutions

OpEd

 


Loren Rose is the Chief Operating Officer for Pyramid Mountain Lumber, Inc. in Seeley Lake. Todd Myers is the Vice President of Marketing and Business Development for Cloud Peak Energy.

2016 is proving to be one of the more challenging years to natural resource industries in Montana. Whether you talk about challenges facing our timber companies, how the situation in Colstrip and coal country will affect families and state coffers or how mining, quarrying and cement production will continue to be an important contributor to our economy, our natural resource industries face some tough obstacles; some of which are beyond our control.

As the co-chairs of the Natural Resources Key Industry Network (KIN) for Governor Bullock’s Main Street Montana Project, we bring a unique perspective to the discussion with more than 37 years of experience making lumber and producing energy in Montana.

The Main Street Montana Project was launched in 2013 to provide a roadmap for businesses and state government to grow, strengthen and streamline their relationship. Focused on more tightly braiding the private and public sectors, Governor Bullock recognizes how vital all Montana’s industries are for our continued economic growth.

By convening the knowledge and experience of Montana business leaders, this initiative was designed to be a platform for the business community to transparently share our ideas with Governor Bullock. The Governor in turn, has committed state agency time and resources to implementing KIN recommendations.

Governor Bullock clearly recognizes the challenges our natural resource industries are facing. The Main Street Montana Project has provided a platform to identify problems and solutions to challenges that are within our control, based upon recommendations provided by the Natural Resources KIN.

Are we solving the issues for these industries?

Frankly, Montana natural resources sectors are facing a complex, difficult and multi-layered reality. It is naïve to think we are going to find all the solutions to our problems with creation of a task force. However, the recommendations from the KIN members to the Governor are steps in the right direction. We need to protect jobs and solidify the position of natural resources as a driver for our state’s economy.

The recommendations from the Natural Resources KIN to Governor Bullock ranged from playing a greater advocacy role for increased timber harvests and advanced clean coal technologies to improving the balance on gubernatorial boards and commissions that provide oversight on natural resource related issues and increasing access to foreign markets.

Governor Bullock listened to the recommendations from the Natural Resources KIN and is making progress to address them. The outcomes of the work already underway on these recommendations tell the story of the Main Street Project’s private-public partnership progress.

Utilizing both the 2014 Farm Bill and state funding and resources, Montana now has 15 timber and restoration projects happening that will produce over 55 million board feet for the timber industry. Under his Forests in Focus initiative, the Governor recently announced a second round of projects that will produce 100 million additional board feet. In addition, the State of Montana just signed a Good Neighbor Agreement with the United States Forest Service. Efforts like these help create opportunities for Montana’s timber industry and forest management.

The Governor recognizes the importance of global trade to Montana commodities and has expressed his concern to Washington decision-makers and their opposition to permitting coal export terminals in that state.

In partnership with Wyoming Governor Matt Mead, Governor Bullock has led other energy-producing states to promote low carbon technologies that would allow our power plants to generate energy with fewer CO2 emissions.

Through the Main Street Montana Project, we have seen a commitment to our hard rock mining workforce with the opening of the Underground Mine Education Facility at Montana Tech. This is one of the few underground facilities for mine education and research located on a college campus.

While the Governor has made progress and taken supportive actions, we also recommended additional items that are critical to our industries.

The Natural Resource KIN identified challenges created by state boards and commissions that provide regulatory oversight to our industries and recommended re-orienting those entities to provide more balance in their consideration of permitting and regulatory concerns. We believe Montana industries “do it right” and that agencies, boards and commissions should look for ways to support responsible development.

And because Montana businesses “do it right,” we asked the Governor to project that fact by pushing federal agencies to find more workable solutions to their mandates, exploring ways to support natural resource industries against litigation from environmental extremists and work with us to streamline Montana’s major permitting statute, the Montana Environmental Policy Act or MEPA.

On behalf of the Natural Resources KIN, we thank Governor Bullock for convening the Main Street Montana Project and including our respective businesses in that discussion. We appreciate the steps taken so far to implement some of those recommendations and trust serious consideration will be given to the full set of recommendations provided by the major natural resource developers in Montana.

For more information about the Main Street Montana Project and the Natural Resources KIN recommendations, please visit http://www.mainstreetmontanaproject.com/Resources.

 

Reader Comments
(0)

 
 

Powered by ROAR Online Publication Software from Lions Light Corporation
© Copyright 2017

Rendered 11/13/2017 00:11