It is a sad day when we see Montana ranchers being displaced from their land in the Bull Mountains, in an area that is not only historically rich in agricultural productivity but is also superb hunting grounds for wild turkey, deer and elk. Adding insult to the injury are ill-considered special tax holidays pushed forward by state Sens. Alan Olson and Jason Priest during the 2011 legislature. All of these subsidies will now be for the benefit of a Russian multi-national trading company planning to export coal from the Signal Peak mine south of Roundup to fuel developing economies on the Pacific Rim.
The ranchers who have sustained our communities for decades will be left with the cave-ins and loss of good water and springs. The surface subsidence from long-wall mining makes it risky to run livestock on the land.
In this current budget crisis, it is inconceivable that the state of Montana would give a handout to foreign companies in the form of tax breaks while our local ranchers and hunters lose productivity.
It is fundamentally wrong.
It’s time we moved away from coal as a dirty energy source. We need to use homegrown, renewable energy to keep our land, air and water safe.