Thursday, June 14, 2012

North Dakotan Jokes Now Obsolete In Montana

The following excerpt From the Montana Contractors Association newsletter was forwarded to the Corrector by one of our Montana Legislators.  We think Mr. Hegreberg hits the nail on the head.  Why are we standing by and allowing this to happen while jobs vanish?

North Dakota must think we're nuts
By Cary Hegreberg, Executive Director, Montana Contractors' Association
An excerpt from the May, 2012 Newsletter
North Dakotans must consider us Montanans to be a pretty humorous and goofy bunch of folks. They listen to us lament with envy the economic prosperity our neighbor to the east is enjoying as a result of the Bakken oil boom. Business leaders, elected officials and everyday Montanans routinely reflect out loud how "lucky" North Dakota is to have all that oil wealth.

Ironically, from the turn of the last century to the late 1990s, North Dakotans were envious of Montana's vast forest lands and the magnificent, fully integrated wood products industry that flourished here. We had thousands of people working in sawmills, plywood and particle board manufacturing plants, and working as loggers, or truckers, not to mention the myriad of related businesses that sprung up to serve the needs of the wood products industry and its workers.

North Dakotans watched dumbfounded as dozens of Montana sawmills and manufacturing plants closed, leaving behind thousands of unemployed workers and devastated communities, all victims of an insatiable environmental movement. Like many Americans, North Dakotans now drive through Montana witnessing mile after mile of dead, standing trees, wondering how we Montanans let this happen.

Similarly, North Dakota watched us decide at the ballot box to ignore the rich gold deposits known to exist in various locations throughout Montana. North Dakotans must have wondered why Montanans couldn't come up with a compromise to capture the economic opportunity of this gold resource while protecting the environment at the same time. At $1600-$1800 per ounce, imagine the revenues Montana could be enjoying today.

North Dakotans, with their relatively meager deposits of low-value, high-sulfur lignite coal, have undoubtedly wondered for decades why the state with the largest deposits of high value, low-sulfur coal in the U.S., allowed Wyoming to dominate coal markets, dwarfing Montana's production levels. We can only speculate on how North Dakota would have dealt with the world class coal reserves Montana has.

North Dakota was not blessed with millions of acres of forest land. North Dakota does not have huge deposits of gold tucked away in the hills. North Dakota does not have hundreds of millions of tons of coal that is in high demand throughout the world. They do have oil, however, and they must find it amazingly ludicrous to hear us Montanans expressing envy at their good fortune.

To be sure, environmental activists are still hammering away at what's left of Montana's timber industry. They are opposing any expansion or extension of the scant few gold mines here that escaped the regulatory pummeling. Nary a day goes by that some rag tag group is rallying to oppose coal trains, alleging all manner of atrocities in order to set the stage for a wholesale attack on coal companies planning to expand production in Montana.

And, it is a given that the promising new opportunities for oil and natural gas development in Montana will be met with the same onslaught of opposition our other resource industries have largely succumbed to.

Will we screw up our oil opportunity too? Will our North Dakota neighbors build new schools, new highways and bridges, and reinvigorate their communities as they watch us Montanans squander yet another chance to convert a natural resource into economic prosperity?

The MCA led the effort in sponsoring the highly successful Montana Energy 2012 conference and tradeshow in Billings Apr. 3-4 as our way to push Montana into a new era of optimism for the future. We don't need to be envious of North Dakota-we need to emulate their attitude to capitalize on resources and create opportunities for our people.

The huge turnout, fascinating presentations, and positive reviews of the energy conference prove that Montana is ready to embrace energy development as The Next Big Thing to reignite our economy. Thanks to a visionary Board of Directors, a supportive membership, and a dedicated staff of professionals, the Montana Contractors' Association stands ready to help lead the way. 


  1. The people of the State of Montana also have a long memory of the tragic disasters that have happened in our state because of the improper and lax regualtion of economic development.

    We have a very special place here, and one of the costs of being able to have such a special place is a debt of stewardship of the great things of Montana for future generations. Notice that wise leadership of our state prioritized this attributes of our state ahead of economic development in the preamble of the Montana State Constitution.

    "We the people of Montana grateful to God for the quiet beauty of our state, the grandeur of our mountains, the vastness of our rolling plains, and desiring to improve the quality of life, equality of opportunity and to secure the blessings of liberty for this and future generations do ordain and establish this constitution"

    People should keep that in mind when we hear industry continue to request the loosening of regulations and permitting processes. Some things cannot be fixed after they have been screwed up, and it is painful to Montanans to see companied walk away from unfixable disasters they have caused in our state.

    Montanans rightfully bristle when they hear the words Pegasus Gold, Berkley Pit, Livingston rail yard, and Grace from Libby Montana. We have lived through a lot of robber barons in this state.

    Montana needs to stand up to the economic forces that want to rape it.

  2. Ask the ranchers near Hilger what they think about mining! They used to have a stream through their property, now they have nothing! The taxpayer is still paying for the cleanup at Zortman-Landusky, pretty good deal for us, huh!

  3. Don't you both think that we have better methods and safety checks today? Just stopping all mining and oil drilling because of things that happened a century ago is rather short sighted

    1. Having better safety checks is not necessarily protective. BP had the proper permits on the Horizen drilling platform before the disaster.

      Schlumberger pulled all of their people off that rig 11 hours before the disaster because they as a company could see how dangerous the situation was becoming- and eventually turned into the one of the worst enviormental disasters of all time.

      Companies cut corners. We know that.

      I am all for economic develpment, but we in Montana have been burned so many times by corporate robber barons taking our resources, that extremely strict permitting, regulating, and oversight precautions should be in place.

      We have many natural wonders in our state that cannot be replaced, and financially cannot be fixed should a disaster occur.

      Alaska found that out after the Exxon Valdez disaster, and still has oil showing up in the bay. Any safety improvements and safeguards were effectively bypassed by one drunk Captain Hazelwood.