Folks in western states like Montana and the Dakotas understand that to ensure our way of life for future generations, we need to balance the responsible development of our natural resources with protecting and conserving our great outdoors.
As an avid outdoorsmen myself, I’ve been backpacking, fishing and hunting across Montana all of my life. And I firmly believe that it is those of us who live here in the west who should make decisions on how our land is used, not federal government bureaucrats in Washington, D.C. from agencies like the Department of Interior’s (DOI) Bureau of Land Management (BLM).
As Montana’s U.S. Senator, it is one of my priorities to ensure that the industry and businesses in our state reach their full potential and support local jobs through exports. Unfortunately, time and again energy-producing states like Montana are bombarded with the Obama administration’s energy and land-use regulations that are stifling innovation that states and the private sector are capable of, and leaving our communities worse off. Already, applications for permits to drill in Montana have dropped 80 percent since 2008 – a significantly higher percentage than the overall national drop – threatening tens of thousands of jobs supported by oil and gas.
At a recent Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee oversight hearing, I questioned the BLM on their proposed methane venting and flaring rule and the costs that will be passed on to communities like many in our region. According to the BLM, their new rule will generate $11 million in additional royalty payments for the federal government, while at the same time costing the industry $161 million annually. Only in Washington, D.C. would an agency be able to justify this kind of math. And to be clear, reductions of this scale would have a miniscule impact on global climate change – with an estimated global climate reduction in greenhouse gas emissions of no more than 0.0092 percent.
With the Bakken as a cornerstone, America has a great opportunity to responsibly grow our production and meet domestic and global demand while simultaneously being one of the most environmentally responsible energy producers. And I’m very proud of the fact that we can now say that America is the world’s leading producer of oil and liquids – surpassing Russia and Saudi Arabia. This standing not only benefits our allies overseas, it ultimately secures our own energy future and strengthens our national security. Our nation has become a leader in oil and gas production not because of the administration, but despite it. I’m working to push back on new BLM regulations to ensure the Bakken plays a vital role in American energy independence for years to come.
It’s not only energy development that is feeling the weight of stifling BLM regulations. Farmers, ranchers and private land owners behind Montana’s plan to protect Sage Grouse habitat are now once again feeling uncertainty brought about by BLM overreach. For Montana, the BLM Sage Grouse Conservation Plan conflicts our locally-driven solution to protect Sage Grouse habitat while also ensuring that our way of life isn’t negatively impacted in some very significant ways.
I’m a firm believer that the folks closer to the lands should have the greatest voice in this process. I have and will continue to encourage BLM officials to amend its land use plans to reflect the successes of local landowners and our state’s plan. The bureaucrats sitting in offices in Washington, D.C. don’t seem to understand that a Sage Grouse can’t tell the difference between federal, state, and private land. And with 64 percent of their habitat overlapping private land, it is my priority to ensure that all land users have certainty going forward.
I talk to a lot of Montanans who, like myself, are worried about the future of our state and our nation if we continue down this path of over-regulation that the administration has paved. Whether ensuring that Montana plays a significant role in our nation’s energy future or protecting land owners from one-size-fits-none regulations – I will continue fighting at every opportunity to push back against job-killing regulations and ensure that western states like Montana have a voice in Washington, D.C.