Montana's environmental lobby teams with governor to kill 600 jobs

Montana's environmental lobby teams with governor to kill 600 jobs

Montana governor Steve Bullock is the latest Democrat to demonstrate just how out of touch he is with the lives and values of hardworking, everyday Americans. Taking a page from the playbook of Chuck SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerRed-state Dem tells Schumer to 'kiss my you know what' on Supreme Court vote Dem infighting erupts over Supreme Court pick Trump's latest win: More Americans are saying, 'I quit!' MORE and Nancy PelosiNancy Patricia D'Alesandro PelosiTop Democrats request meeting with intel chief over sharing of classified info Overnight Defense: Fears rise over Trump-Putin summit | McCain presses Trump to hold Putin 'accountable' for hacking | Pentagon does damage control after NATO meet 'Our Cartoon President' takes on Mueller probe, NATO and Melania in second season MORE, Bullock has scoffed at the higher take-home pay, bonuses, benefit improvements and lower utility bills resulting from the GOP tax cuts. Though instead of saying “crumbs,” like his partisan counterparts in San Francisco and New York City do, Bullock calls them “table scraps.”

Thanks to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act — the long-overdue federal tax code overhaul that passed Congress without a single Democrat vote — 90 percent of wage earners have higher take-home pay. Companies of all sizes have already given bonuses, raises, and higher 401(k) matches to millions of workers. And at least 102 utilities across the country are lowering rates for customers in response to the GOP tax cuts.

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Montana workers have seen the benefits of rate-reducing tax reform. NorthWestern Energy, which has some 345,000 customers in Montana, announced it would be passing its tax reform savings on to consumers. AT&T announced it would be issuing $1,000 bonuses to 686 Montana employees, and TrueNorth Steel, located in Billings, Montana, announced it would be adding new jobs. After the decade long economic malaise of the Obama years, Montanans, like most Americans, are experiencing a period of remarkable growth.

 

Bullock sees this good news and is not happy. According to Bullock more jobs, higher wages and lower bills are insignificant developments for American families. This out-of-touch attitude emanating from Democrats in the political class helps explain Bullock’s decision to spike a mining project that would create up to 600 jobs in Lincoln and Sanders counties, counties which consistently have some of the highest unemployment rates in Montana. 

Bullock’s Department of Environmental Quality recently shut down Hecla Mining Co.’s plan to open two silver and copper mines in Lincoln and Sanders Counties by labeling the company a “bad actor” under the state’s Metal Mines Reclamation Act. 

The effort to block these mines is spearheaded by environmental groups such as Earthjustice and Montana Conservation Voters (MCV)Conservation groups led by Earthjustice have been lobbying to block the development of these mines and the jobs they would create long before Hecla purchased them. MCV just so happens to be the same environmental group that spent $500,000 to help reelect Bullock in 2016. After sending Bullock half a million dollars, it’s safe to say that he and his staffers take MCV’s calls. 

In October 2017, MCV asked the Department to designate Hecla as a “bad actor.” By March, Bullock’s administration granted MCV’s request despite the fact that Hecla never once failed to meet reclamation obligations. The opening of the mines and the subsequent jobs for Montana workers have been tied up in legal battles ever since. 

Local leaders have publicly expressed dismay with Bullock and feel the closing of the mines is just another political game for the governor. “I’m just sick and tired of this county getting kicked around by the state and federal government,” said one Lincoln County Commissioner. Local leadership is clearly frustrated and rightly feels betrayed by the governor.

In short, these mines and the jobs they create were shut down at the behest of an environmental lobby, not due to safety concerns or inappropriate behavior on the part of Hecla. It is clear Bullock is putting politics and the donor class ahead of Montana workers and the families they support. As a result, Bullock has ensured the citizens of Lincoln and Sanders counties will continue to struggle while hundreds of jobs are at their fingertips.

Mike Palicz is federal affairs manager at Americans for Tax Reform, a nonprofit group advocating for lower taxes and limited government.