Montana’s Tourism Promo the Envy in Seattle

A new report put out by the Western Energy Alliance says that by 2020 the West will produce as much oil and natural gas on a daily basis as the U.S. imports from Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Kuwait, Venezuela, Colombia, Algeria, Nigeria, and Russia combined, with Montana playing a prominent role in increasing domestic energy security.

More on that in a moment, but first: isn’t it odd how states who develop their natural resources also have more money to promote the tourism industry?  You will also find that areas in Montana which are seeing strong oil development are also seeing strong tourism numbers. 

That being said, I find this piece in The New York Times interesting.  It profiles Montana’s tourism promotion efforts in large cities like Seattle, and the envy of states like Washington who have had to cut back.  (Maybe if Washington State would quit standing in the way of those export terminals to ship Montana coal to Asia, they would also have more jobs and revenue to promote tourism?)

Here’s more:

An alluring billboard beckoned to motorists on a busy industrial corridor here this spring. It displayed just one image, a panoramic view of a valley and mountains and sunshine, and one word, “Montana.”

Who paid for that advertisement? The State of Montana, naturally, out of money it designated for tourism marketing this year.

“They’ve done a great job, and they’re incredibly visible,” said Tom Norwalk, the president and chief executive of Seattle’s Convention and Visitors Bureau. “We’re not doing that. We’re going to be fortunate in the next six months to be able to maintain a Web site.”

Meanwhile, the liberal news website New West even jumps on the story of the Northwestern Montanans who have been forced to move to North Dakota for work.

“The starting pay for entry level oil field work is great,” Clint Manning, a frac heater in the fields, said.  “I came out here so I could save some money and try to pay to go to school.”

Manning moved from his hometown of Kalispell, Mont., for Williston, N.D., because there were simply no job opportunities at home.

“I see Kalispell [license] plates everywhere. I work with people from home,” Manning said. “Most of the workers are from out of state, but those from here are obviously working in the oil fields.”

And, for the big story, The Western Energy Alliance released this report earlier this week:

The Blueprint for Western Energy Prosperity finds that by 2020 the West will produce as much oil and natural gas on a daily basis as the U.S. imports from Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Kuwait, Venezuela, Colombia, Algeria, Nigeria, and Russia combined, with Montana playing a prominent role in increasing domestic energy security. 

The Blueprint, conducted by EIS Solutions with data analysis by ICF International, provides evidence that just six major oil and natural gas producing states in the West have the ability to help rebuild the economy and create jobs while displacing foreign imports.  

The Bakken formation, which spans Montana and North Dakota , will generate 1.3 million barrels of domestic oil production a day by the year 2020, which is more than the current amount of oil imported from Russia, Iraq and Kuwait combined.

The study concludes that if western producers are allowed to develop the vast domestic energy resources found on public lands, investment in the region will double to $58 billion annually by 2020, and direct, indirect and induced jobs will increase by 16%, including 4,735 new jobs in Montana.

“These projections of increased investment in western energy, especially in the oil rich Bakken, is good news for Montana’s economy and for American energy security,” said David Galt, Executive Director of the Montana Petroleum Association. “The Bakken is already responsible for a significant percentage of our domestic energy production, and continued growth of our industry means more jobs for Montanans and less reliance on foreign energy sources.”

Federal government policies, however, are significantly undermining these projections of growth, investment and expansion.  The Blueprint identifies government policies that are making western energy development increasingly more difficult, time consuming, and expensive, and recommends policies to overcome those obstacles.

“Western producers are gravely concerned that government policies are significantly undermining these projections of growth, investment and expansion,” said Western Energy Alliance President Tom Sheffield of Pioneer Natural Resources.  “The West is supplying an increasing amount of America’s energy with a smaller environmental footprint, but while technological advancement has opened the door to a century’s worth of new oil and natural gas, misguided government action is preventing achievement of the region’s full energy potential.”  

The Blueprint outlines specific actions that must be taken if America is to reap the full benefit of western energy.  Among the study’s recommendations:
• A thorough review and comprehensive reform of the entire federal onshore process, including leasing, project environmental analysis, and permitting
• A moratorium on new and expanded layers of regulation
• Limits to litigation that unreasonably obstruct domestic energy production and economic growth
• Changes to renewable portfolio standards to allow natural gas to compete for electricity generation capacity on the basis of fuel-neutral performance criteria such as cost and emissions profile
• Market-based policies that remove barriers preventing natural gas from fully competing as a transportation fuel.

“If we are serious about realizing the full promise of western energy production, regulatory policies must be realigned to support, not hinder, responsible and timely access to oil and natural gas resources on federal lands,” said Sheffield.  “The industry is committed to continued environmental improvements and balanced use of our federal lands, but in order to continue supplying domestic energy and helping to rebuild our economy, we need a more efficient and predictable regulatory environment.  The current and ever expanding maze of haphazard federal regulation must be reformed if our industry is to help solve America’s pressing economic and energy challenges.”

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