Tag Archives: Jon Tester

Tester urges feds to cancel oil & gas leases in Badger-Two Medicine

Sen. Jon Tester is joining the chorus asking for cancellation of oil and gas leases in the Badger-Two Medicine area . . .

U.S. Sen. Jon Tester has joined Blackfeet tribal leaders in their efforts to have all federal oil and gas exploration leases in the Badger-Two Medicine area next to their reservation canceled.

In a letter Friday to Interior Secretary Sally Jewell and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, the Montana Democrat said he agreed with the Blackfeet Tribe that Jewell and Vilsack’s departments “clearly have not just the moral obligation but also the legal authority to cancel all existing leases in the Badger-Two Medicine area.”

Tester visited the Blackfeet Reservation earlier this month and discussed the issue with tribal leaders. They maintain that 47 leases in the 165,000-acre area were illegally granted by the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service in 1982.

Read more . . .

Tester gets ‘four Pinocchios’ for statements on logging litigation

Senator Jon Tester seriously misstated the effect of lawsuits on logging projects in Montana, causing a minor public furor and earning him “four Pinocchios” from the Washington Post . . .

Our inbox started flowing with e-mails from outraged residents of Montana shortly after Montana Public Radio ran an interview in which Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.)  asserted that “every logging sale” in the state was “under litigation.” The complaints also reached the radio station, as within a day, Tester’s staff offered a revised statement that focused on “volume” rather than sales. Marnee Banks, his spokeswoman, apologized for the original statement, but Tester himself made no comment.

But when we asked Tester’s staff for evidence to back up the revised statement, they simply directed us to the U.S. Forest Service, rather than explain the data themselves. It’s taken a few days to unravel the numbers, but this is a case of apples and oranges, with a few limes thrown in.

What’s the actual effect of litigation on logging in Montana?

Read more . . .

Supporters hail passage of North Fork bill

Chris Peterson of the Hungry Horse News did a nice write-up on last Friday’s meeting with Senators Tester and Walsh . . .

A lot has changed since 2006, when Glacier National Park superintendent Mick Holm traveled north to Canada to meet with British Petroleum officials who were considering coal bed methane gas development in the Flathead River drainage.

“They tried to convince us they were a green company,” Holm recalled last week. “We tried to convince them the right thing to do was to not do anything.”

That was one of many battles over the future of the North Fork of the Flathead over the past 40 years. The struggle finally came to an end on Dec. 18 as President Obama signed the 2014 National Defense Authorization Act.

Read more . . .

Group gathers in West Glacier to celebrate North Fork protection

Last Friday, December 19, a group of folks met with Senators Tester and Walsh at the Belton Inn in West Glacier to celebrate the passage of a number of Montana lands bills, including the North Fork Watershed Protection Act. Yours truly was there, along with a fair number of other North Forkers, conservationists, business people, community leaders and federal officials. The media was out in force. I knew perhaps a third of the folks in the room.

The meeting was informal, with both politicos in blue jeans and very accessible. They even showed up ahead of time to have more time to chat with the attendees. Everyone made a point, before and after the speechifying, of thanking the senators for getting legislation through the system that was developed collaboratively here in Montana. It was all very adult and non-political. Refreshing.

There’s been a ton of attention from both the press and from a number of conservation outfits. Rather than generate a bunch of individual posts, I’m going to do a roll-up here, with links to a representative sample of the online coverage . . .

Supporters Hail Passage of North Fork Bill as Conservation Milestone (Flathead Beacon; nice photos)

North Fork preservation celebrated in West Glacier (KPAX)

Obama signs bill protecting North Fork, Rocky Mountain Front (Helena Independent Record)

Victory for the Crown of the Continent (Montanans for Healthy Rivers newsletter; also has nice Trail Creek article)

Woo-hoo! Senate passes defense bill with North Fork and Rocky Mountain Front additions intact

At 3:00 p.m. this afternoon, the annual National Defense Authorization Act, along with a package of Montana lands bills including the North Fork Watershed Protection Act and the Rocky Mountain Front Heritage Act, was passed by the Senate and sent on to President Barack Obama’s desk for signature.

This is very good news for the protection of the North Fork. It is also excellent news for our friends on the Rocky Mountain Front, not to mention carrying with it the first new wilderness additions in Montana in 31 years.

Here’s the lead-in for an early article in the Missoulian. We’ll add links to more coverage (see below) as it occurs . . .

The Senate voted to pass its annual National Defense Authorization Act on Friday , sending Montana’s first wilderness additions in 33 years to President Barack Obama’s desk.

The vote wound up at 3 p.m. after several attempts to add amendments and return it to committee. The final tally was 89-11, with both Montana Democratic senators Jon Tester and John Walsh voting in favor. Walsh held the gavel as Senate chairman at the start of the vote.

The National Defense Authorization Act authorizes $585 billion in Pentagon discretionary spending and $63.7 billion in overseas contingency operations. Those dollars go to things like developing the F-35 fighter jet, maintaining nuclear weapons, operating aircraft carriers and paying military personnel.

It also includes a package of 70 public land management bills; the biggest collection since the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009. They create about 250,000 acres of new wilderness designations and protection of other lands from energy development…

Read more . . .

More coverage:

Senate passes North Fork, Rocky Front bill (Hungry Horse News)

Senate Approves Montana Lands Package (Flathead Beacon – good article)

Congress Approves Montana Wilderness (Associated Press)

Tester: U.S. Senate maneuvers kept land bills uncertain until final vote (Missoulian)

Montana lands package roll-up nears finish line

An “historic” lands package including provisions of significant impact on Northwest Montana approaches a critical vote in the Senate . . .

A raft of public lands measures is headed for a vote in the U.S. Senate this week following a last-minute series of negotiations between the state’s congressional leaders, who together marshaled a bundle of Montana bills into the historic package.

The product of 11th-hour arbitrations that nearly collapsed in the waning moments of Dec. 2, the sprawling lands package was rolled into the National Defense Authorization Act, a must-pass piece of legislation that has lawmakers optimistic it would sail through the Senate with the lands bills intact.

Read more . . .

Conservationists wonder what’s next for Montana lands

This is the conclusion of a two-part series by Rob Chaney of the Missoulian on the roll-up of Montana land-use legislation inserted into the National Defense Authorization Act last week . . .

While everyone wonders if the U.S. Senate will pass a huge package of public lands legislation this week, many Montanans are already looking beyond the fate of the two wildland protection bills in the mix.

“The positive thing is a logjam is going to break loose,” said Scott Bosse of American Rivers in Bozeman. “That helps future conservation bills. I think members of our delegation were reluctant to take on other big projects as long as the logjam existed.”

Wilderness advocate Steward Brandborg felt quite the opposite…

Read more . . .

Montana wilderness bill a product of last-minute horse-trading

This is part one of a two-part series by Rob Chaney of the Missoulian on the roll-up of Montana land-use legislation inserted into the National Defense Authorization Act last week . . .

Years of legislative wrangling squeezed down to hours of last-minute negotiating to get a bundle of Montana land bills into the National Defense Authorization Act last week.

“We were not sure what was going to be in the package until 11 p.m. Tuesday night,” Rep. Steve Daines, R-Montana, said Friday. “There’s a lot of pieces in that package. It was late in the game before we could see what was going on.”

For Montana Democratic senators Jon Tester and John Walsh, the legislative work started in October. But the final horse-trading took place just days before all three members of the congressional delegation stood together to announce their achievement on Wednesday.

Read more . . .

House passes defense bill that includes Rocky Mountain Front, North Fork provisions

The defense bill passed the U.S. House this afternoon, including the provisions for the various Montana conservation and lands legislation packages. Next week, the bill is debated in the Senate, a much higher hurdle . . .

The U.S. House on Thursday passed a defense spending bill containing a broad public lands package for Montana, including new wilderness on the Rocky Mountain Front, a ban on mining near Glacier National Park and changes supporting oil exploration and grazing on federal land.

The Republican-controlled House voted 300-119 for the $585 billion defense policy bill, which funds U.S. troops, military operations, ships, planes and war equipment. Montana’s only House member, U.S. Rep. Steve Daines, a Republican, voted for it.

The bill now goes to the U.S. Senate for consideration, where a vote is expected next week.

Read more . . .

‘Historic’ Montana lands conservation bill roll-up merged into defense bill

Montana’s congressional delegation is taking another swing at getting several long-delayed lands use bills passed. This time around, they’ve rolled up the whole collection, including the North Fork Watershed Protection Act and the Rocky Mountain Front Heritage Act, and merged it with the pending defense spending bill, a “must pass” piece of legislation.

Here’s the lead-in from the Hungry Horse News, along with links to additional local coverage . . .

Montana’s Congressional delegation announced Dec. 3 they have come together on an agreement for a major land-use bill that rolls several pieces of key conservation legislation into a defense spending bill that could pass Congress in the coming days.

In a conference call Wednesday morning, Sens. Jon Tester and John Walsh and Rep. Steve Daines said the North Fork Watershed Protection Act, the Rocky Mountain Front Heritage Act, the Northern Cheyenne Lands Act and several other lands-use bills would be merged into the legislation.

“Today is an historic day for Montana,” Tester announced.

Read more . . .

Further reading:

‘Historic’ Montana Lands Package to Advance – Flathead Beacon

Front, North Fork, other Montana lands bills set to advance – Missoulian

Poised for Protection – Montana Wilderness Association