Eventually the folks in eastern Montana are going to get fed up and denounce those in western Montana.
The oil, gas, and coal produced in the eastern half of the state accounts for a tremendous amount of funding used to fuel state spending on education, health care, public safety and more. Most of the new job growth in the state is happening in just a few eastern counties — without them our unemployment rate would be much higher.
And, though you won’t hear them complain, that resource development has a strain on their infrastructure and is somewhat disruptive to their otherwise quiet way of life.
And what do they get in return? They get pushed around in the Legislature for one. And now that they have another tremendous opportunity to create jobs and build their tax base through the Keystone XL pipeline project, they’re met with opposition from western Montana environmentalists.
One Prairie County commissioner testified to the State Department that his county’s tax base would increase by 300 percent as a result of the pipeline infrastructure. Think of the tremendous opportunities that would create for the good folks in Terry and the outlying communities.
But environmentalists from the western side of the state are trying to block the project. Why? One has to ask. The folks in eastern Montana get it — if we want jobs and economic opportunity, we’re going to have to get our hands dirty and build something, not dance on the governor’s table in hopes that job creation falls from the sky. It makes you wonder how much longer they’re going to be willing to put up with the naysayers in the west.