Capitol Letters — "It's All About Business"

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Carmine Mowbray — "It's All About Business"

Maybe you’ve seen my little giveaway lint rollers

printed with: “Keeping Montana’s Economy Rolling!” It’s a silly

pun, but my thought behind it is serious. I am proud that Montana

Chamber of Commerce honored my pro-business Senate voting

record. 

I’ve never had better sweet corn than what I bought

at Polson’s Farmer’s Market. Tonya Truman tells me marketers will

be there Fridays through September, and if frost permits, until the

second week of October. But don’t put off your next trip through

the booths of breads, pastries, gourmet seasonings, jewelry, crafts

and local produce – just some of the wonderful things your

neighbors bring to sell. 

I jumped at the chance to join several legislators in

Billings for Arch Coal’s field trip in August. We boarded our bus

early for a full day of economic education. We observed Montana’s

Otter Creek proposed coal tract, with the potential to provide

hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue and several hundred

Montana jobs. Looking over the beautiful country, I asked Senator

Jim Peterson, “How would YOU feel if Arch came to your ranch and

told you they were going to displace you and your neighbors for up

to 20 years so they could gouge out the coal beneath your

land?” 

He said, “I could temporarily relocate and they’d

leave the land as good or better than they found it, or I’d take

the buy-out money and go elsewhere to ranch.” 

We continued south of Gillette to the Black Thunder

mine, the largest surface coal mine in North America. We entered

the control house of the huge drag line, mesmerized by the

garage-sized bucket, colossal pulleys and cables the diameter of

fence posts.

Our guides explained their approach to responsible

resource development. The mine produces roughly 81 million tons of

coal per year and employs over 1,600 people. Average wage is over

$77,000. In 2009 the coal industry provided over $1 billion to

Wyoming’s state and local governments. After development, the

disturbed land is reclaimed, which we saw as wildlife and cattle

grazed. 

The pride the men and women take in these jobs was

obvious. Arch has an admirable safety record, and they have no

problem finding good people to fill positions. Montana stands to

gain greatly by responsible coal development. 

With a healthy economy, more folks are likely to

stroll through their local farmer’s markets, stimulating trade with

businesses, small and large.

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