If you missed the news of interest, here’s the deal: so the “What new precedent do we want to set today” state Supreme Court in Montana ruled in March that PPL owes back taxes for use of the riverbeds underneath their hydropower dams in the state. That’s a big enough issue in itself to write about, but we’ve heard that story before, and will certainly hear more as PPL looks to appeal to the US Supreme Court. At least that’s according to this article by the Associated Press picked up by Bloomberg’s Business Week.
Here’s the real golden nugget in this story, however, that certainly merits more investigation. Why is it that the Nature Conservancy is selling land to the state government? Maybe it’s nothing, or maybe it was something that was already written into the terms of the agreement. However, it seems to me that some landowners use conservation easements as a way to keep their land in production without letting it wind up in state or federal hands. I’ve certainly been hearing talk of Nature Conservancy going on a land-selling binge to to the government.
The AP’s Matt Gouras included this line towards the end of his piece, as he mentioned the fact that the State of Montana, through the Land Board, is already looking to spend the $40 million it is collecting thanks to the Montana Supreme Court’s precedent-setting decision.
The Department of Natural Resources and Conservation (DNRC) has proposed the state look into buying former Plum Creek Timber land, currently owned by The Nature Conservancy. It said the new land will produce an ongoing source of revenue, like other land that is leased for grazing, logging, mineral exploration and other uses.
Plus, is there any reason for concern that the DNRC is now run by Mary Sexton, a former employee of the Nature Conservancy?