Political Trough: Could Re-Fracking Reboot the Industry?

Is President Obama looking to recover from his controversial National Prayer Breakfast remarks by outlining his ISIS war plans?  All this, as Senate Democrats (like Sen. Jon Tester from Montana) are pressing to shut down the Department of Homeland Security.

Plus, why Daines’ was one of the top travel spenders in Congress, and why you should be happy about that.  Speaking of travel- no surprise after a new report details that Montana Republicans typically drive American-made pickups, while Montana Democrats typically drive foreign-made small cars.  (A real interesting follow up would be which legislators purchase their vehicles from in-state car dealers) 

And- a new report comparing state versus federal land management is due out this week, as State Senator Jennifer Fielder (R-Thompson Falls) calls the enviros’ bluff on #KeepingItPublic. All those stories and more are in this week’s Political Trough. 

But first- “Don’t Count Out US Oil.”

Politico’s Morning Energy has this:

DON’T COUNT OUT U.S. OIL: Oil prices may still be weak despite their recent bounce, but even with the current pessimism, the International Energy Agency says the U.S. is going to reap the benefits through the end of the decade. In its medium-term outlook, released while you were getting ready for bed, IEA predicts prices will stabilize – although at levels below the recent highs – and momentum will return to the U.S. shale market over the course of the next few years, reports Reuters. ‘The price correction will cause the North American supply ‘party’ to mark a pause; it will not bring it to an end,’ IEA says. On the other hand, Russia may feel the sting: production there could shrink by some 560,000 barrels per day by the decade’s end. Reuters: http://reut.rs/1uxUzL4

ONE FRACK, TWO FRACK: The oil industry is looking to rekindle its romance with about 50,000 existing wells, wondering if any of them might make good “candidates for a second wave of fracking,” reports Bloomberg’s David Wethe. So-called “re-fracking” offered mixed results in the past but “the oil crash is forcing companies to pursue new technologies to produce oil more cheaply…. This second wave of fracking is disappointing environmentalists who expected a slowdown in new drilling tied to the price slump.” Bloomberg News: http://bloom.bg/1vBjWMZ

On this question of re-fracking, The Big Sky Business Journal’s Evelyn Pyburn raised this important question last week at the economic outlook seminar. Check out what former energy executive Dr. Bill Whitsitt, now with The University of Montana Bureau of Business and Economic Research, had to say when it comes to the question of re-fracking.  Whitsitt called in during Voices of Montana on Tuesday.    

Click below to listen:

Click to Listen


The Daily Caller- FIGHT TO THE LEFT: David Brock Angrily Resigns From Pro-Hillary PAC

Now that Brock has drawn the battle lines, a key question emerges: will David Brock be able to take the Priorities USA board of directors in direct hand-to-hand combat if it comes down to it? Here are some of the top candidates to smash a bottle of booze on the bar and show Brock a little vast conspiracy.

Co-chairman Jim Messina: The campaign manager of Obama’s 2012 effort, Messina is a protegé of Montana Democratic Sen. Max Baucus and the man behind the voter personality-tracking software that helped Obama win in Florida. But he also has the same name as Kenny Loggins’ sidekick, whose solo career kind of tanked. If he ever met Brock in a steam-filled parking lot late at night, Messina would probably have more backup fighters to call upon. After all, Messina tracks potential Democratic voters to get them to the polls, whereas Brock tracks conservative journalists to try to smear them. Advantage Jim.

Fox News First

Crusader – The proposed legislation also comes in the wake of comments the president made cautioning Christians against being on “a high horse” over Islamist violence, comparing the current effort by ISIS to the violence of the Crusades, which began in 1065, and the inquisitions conducted against heresy and religious minorities that began in 1184. Appearing on “The O’Reilly Factor” on Monday, former top Obama adviser David Axelrod that Obama “absolutely” knew the comments would kick off a firestorm “I think he knew what he was saying and he knew that it was provocative,” Axelrod said. “His point is: Let us not define that entire quarter of planet by the actions of extremists. Let’s isolate the extremists, just as we wouldn’t blame every Christian for the acts of some Christian, or every Jew for the acts of some Jews.”

CAN OBAMA AND REID KEEP SENATE DEMS IN LINE? As Senate Democrats try to reconcile themselves to life in the Senate minority, the question of how much obstructionism is appropriate are swirling around town. The conference is so far sticking together behind Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and his plan to continuing insulating President Obama. But as a shutdown for the Department of Homeland Security looms, will Democrats continue to hold the line for the sake of defending the president’s executive actions granting temporary amnesty for illegal immigrants? The president argued in his interview with Vox that the Senate’s 60-vote threshold should be shelved. The thinking there is that Democrats can call for a rule that would disadvantage them now, but do so knowing that Republicans are not going to destroy the filibuster they have long championed. Then, upon retaking the Senate, Democrats could go nuclear and change the rules to shut down the GOP minority saying. The best of both worlds, right? That proposition will get trickier, though, as Republicans force more and more difficult votes. The GOP is preparing an even more generous offer on Homeland Security funding.

Regarding the story above, is Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) really looking to shut down the Department of Homeland Security?  

Meanwhile, Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT) is listed as one of the top travel spenders during his tenure in the US House- and he should be!  Daines (and now Zinke) represented Montana as the lone member of the US House.  He and his staff has a much larger distance to travel than most any other member.  On top of that, if they aren’t travelling- then they’re not hearing from their constituents in person across the state.  May the outreach to Montanans continue even after the election…

USA Today:  Rep. Schock one of top travel spenders in U.S. House

The House members who have spent more on travel than Schock include lawmakers with the largest and most sparsely populated districts: Then-representative Steve Daines, who represented all of Montana in the House before being elected to the Senate last year, spent $155,000 on travel in 2013; Del. Madeleine Bordallo spent $154,000 traveling back and forth to her district in Guam; Kristi Noem, the only House member from South Dakota, spent $128,000; and then-Rep. Pete Gallego, whose district covered nearly the entire southwest corner of Texas, spent $104,000.

This wasn’t exactly breaking news here…but what about a follow up finding out which lawmakers bought their vehicles in-state or out-of-state?  (Remember that dustup with former Democratic Gov. Brian Schweitzer?) 

The Billings Gazette- Legislators’ cars: Republicans like trucks, Democrats drive foreign rigs — and vice-versa

Republicans drive trucks — and not just any truck, but big, American-made pickups. Democrats? They like foreign cars and hybrids.

A stereotype? Definitely. But if the vehicle of choice for Montana’s legislators are any indication, it’s not too far off.

The lone GOP exception is Sen. Nels Swandal, a retired district judge and rancher from Wilsall, who drives a Toyota Prius.

Remember how all the GOP moderates in the Montana legislature were complaining that their bills might get stuck in committee?  Well, I wonder how the moderates would have reacted if this quote came from one of the conservative members of the legislature: 

Imagine if one of the conservatives said this: 

Senate Taxation Chair Bruce Tutvedt, R-Kalispell, told the Senate that Ankney’s SB200 will be the lone major tax cut bill to survive.

“This is the only one that’s come out of Senate Tax,” Tutvedt said. “It’s the only one that’s going to come out of Senate Tax.”

Now, I like Ankney (and Tutvedt) too, but I can’t imagine telling your fellow lawmakers how the only tax cut bill that’s gonna come out of your committee is your buddy’s bill…

That quote came from this article: Governor sounds warning on multiple tax cut proposals 

Here’s another twist at the legislature….State Sen. Jennifer Fielder (R-Thompson Falls) has been leading the discussion on transferring some federal lands into state hands.  The big money out-of-state environmental groups have opposed the idea, saying we need to #KeepItPublic.  Well, Sen. Fielder just called their bluff, and in an odd twist- the enviros and Governor Steve Bullock’s (D-MT) own officials came out against a bill that would do just that: #KeepItPublic 

The contentious issue of transferring management of federal lands to the state got its first airing at the 2015 Legislature Monday, as a Republican senator presented her bill to prevent the state from selling any transferred land.

Sen. Jennifer Fielder of Thompson Falls, a leading proponent of the transfer, said her Senate Bill 215 counters the argument from opponents that the transfer would lead to a sell-off of federal public lands.

“There is no question in my mind that the public lands would remain public,” she told the Senate Natural Resources Committee. “This would put into law a prohibition to sell (these lands).”

Speaking of the lands transfer discussion…Holly Fretwell and Shawn Regan have an upcoming policy paper comparing state versus federal land management that should be worth a read from PERC. 

Here’s a preview: Divided Lands

The purpose of this report is to compare state and federal land management in the West. In particular, we examine the revenues and expenditures associated with federal land management and compare them with state trust land management in four western states: Montana, Idaho, New Mexico, and Arizona. These states, which encompass a wide range of landscapes, natural resources, and land management agencies, allow for a robust comparison. Our analysis will help explain why revenues and expenditures may differ between state and federal land agencies and explore some of the implications of transferring federal lands to the states.

We find that state trust agencies produce far greater financial returns from land management than federal land agencies. In fact, the federal government often loses money managing valuable natural resources. States, on the other hand, consistently generate significant amounts of revenue from state trust lands. On average, states earn more revenue per dollar spent than the federal government for each of the natural resources we examine, including timber, grazing, minerals, and recreation. – See more at: http://perc.org/articles/divided-lands#sthash.uleiuDga.dpuf

Looks like the ACLU is working to line their pockets with more of your money, and force you to pay millions more upgrading more jails across the state. 

KTVQ-TV: ACLU of Montana: County jail facilities in “crisis”

A new report released Monday by the ACLU of Montana warns that county jails across the state are outdated, overcrowded and understaffed.

“The consequences of these factors can be devastating to individuals and costly to our communities,” ACLU of Montana Executive Director Scott Crichton said in a press release. “Given the financial constraints many counties experience, meaningful jail and criminal justice reforms are not only morally justifiable, but also financially necessary.”

The Flathead Beacon: Montana and Wyoming See EPA Coal Rules Differently

The sentiment underscores the difficulty facing policymakers in Wyoming and Montana. Both are among the country’s top coal producers, and both rely on coal for the majority of their electricity generation.
Despite this, the western neighbors are pursuing radically different approaches to the Clean Power Plan. Wyoming plans to fight the regulations. Montana is looking to comply with them. The diverging path of two coal states has important implications for the mining industry’s future and the makeup of the western power grid.
Wyoming is involved in two lawsuits seeking to block the EPA from moving forward with the regulations. Gov. Matt Mead, in his State of the State address, said he would fight with “bulldog determination” to protect the state’s coal industry.

The Hill: States rise up against Washington

State legislators around the country have introduced more than 200 bills aiming to nullify regulations and laws coming out of Washington, D.C., as they look to rein in the federal government.

The legislative onslaught, which includes bills targeting federal restrictions on firearms, experimental treatments and hemp, reflects growing discord between the states and Washington, state officials say.

The 10th Amendment of the Bill of Rights reserves to the states powers not granted to the federal government by the Constitution. States have long used it as a tool to protect themselves against regulations.

Oh, Big Brother….Michael Bloomberg suggests disarming minorities to ‘keep them alive’ (Washington Times report)

While speaking at the Aspen Institute, Mr. Bloomberg, 72, said 95 percent of murders fall into a specific category: a male minority between the ages of 15 and 25, The Aspen Times reported.

Cities need to get guns out of this group’s hands and keep them alive, the former three-term mayor said, according to The Times.

“Mayor Bloomberg’s statement that black males should not be allowed to have guns echos similar sentiments made by southern white supremacists in the 19th century,” Tom King, the association’s president, said in a statement. “So called ‘Black Codes’ were enacted by various southern states to discriminate against black Americans and maintain the system of white supremacy that made slavery possible. These included restrictions on firearms possession.

Jindal To Obama: ‘Medieval Christian Threat Is Under Control’

“It was nice of the President to give us a history lesson at the Prayer breakfast,” Jindal said. “Today, however, the issue right in front of his nose, in the here and now, is the terrorism of Radical Islam, the assassination of journalists, the beheading and burning alive of captives. We will be happy to keep an eye out for runaway Christians, but it would be nice if he would face the reality of the situation today. The Medieval Christian threat is under control, Mr. President. Please deal with the Radical Islamic threat today.”

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