The former campaign manager for President Barack Obama, Jim Messina, was in Missoula over the weekend to deliver the commencement address to his alma mater, the University of Montana. Messina currently has his own consulting firm, and also is national chairman of “Organizing for Action”, a nonprofit group working to help the president achieve his legislative agenda. In this feature interview, Messina talks with News Director Sally Mauk about OFA’s priorities: climate change, gun control and immigration reform.
Budget deficit, gun control, climate change, immigration reform – that’s the full plate Congress is facing at a time when the American public has little faith they can accomplish anything, much less tackle all of the above. In this feature interview, News Director Sally Mauk talks with Democratic Senator Jon Tester about these pending controversial issues. First on the agenda is the March first deadline when 85 billion dollars worth of spending cuts go into effect, unless Congress passes either a short or long term budget plan.
The Montana Land Board has voted to grant easements for the Keystone XL pipeline.
These leases would allow the company Trans-Canada to build their pipeline through property owned by the state of Montana as long as the project passes environmental review.
The controversial proposed pipeline still has a long process ahead of it before construction can begin.
The last action item of Governor Brian Schweitzer’s last meeting with the Montana Land Board was an item of national interest on Monday–granting nearly 40 land easements to the Keystone XL Pipeline.
TransCanada needs these easements to cross the Keystone Pipeline through parcels of state land as it makes its way south. The controversial pipeline would run from oil sands in northeastern Alberta, Canada all the way down to the Gulf of Mexico in Texas.
Supporters say the project would help the US toward its goal of North American energy independence and also say it would create jobs.
Opponents fault the environmental impacts from Keystone. Several of those critics made their opinions known to the Land Board. College student Colton Hash pointed out extracting oil from the Canadian tar sands results in the release of more greenhouse gas emissions than more conventional measures.
“The impacts from climate change we should be taking very seriously especially in relation to Montana’s agriculture and Montana’s wildfires,” Hash said.
“We are not dealing with your everyday crude oil in this pipeline,” said Executive Director of the Montana Environmental Information Center.
The tar extracted from the sands in Canada needs to be mixed with chemicals in order to produce a type of synthetic crude oil. Jensen says this mixture has not been properly tested for its impacts on aquatic environments, and the 36 inch wide keystone pipeline would cross under several Montana rivers.
TransCanada says it has agreed to bury the pipeline 40 feet beneath the bed of major Montana rivers.
Governor Schweitzer says those with environmental concerns are coming to the wrong place in making these arguments.
“Asking the Land Board to assess the environmental capabilities of any particular case would be like going to an auto mechanic and asking him to fix your jet,” Schweitzer said.
Schweitzer says the Land Board simply votes whether or not to grant leases or easements for these types of projects.
A company like TransCanada cannot move forward with their project unless it passes the permitting process at the Department of Environmental Quality. Keystone has passed this permitting from DEQ.
It’s just another step in a long process for the pipeline.
The project faces court battles in other states. Keystone also needs Presidential approval for crossing international borders.
Montana gets paid once this Presidential permit is granted.
The Land Board sold the 50-year easements to TransCanada for over $740 thousand dollars. The money would go to Montana schools.
Canadian investigative journalist Andrew Nikiforuk has won numerous awards for his work, most notably the Rachel Carson environmental book award for his book “Tar Sands, Dirty Oil and The Future of a Continent”. Nikiforuk is kicking off this year’s President’s Lecture series at the University of Montana, and took time to sit down in our studios with News Director Sally Mauk to talk about how oil is changing the U.S.-Canadian relationship –
Missoula city councilman Dave Strohmaier hopes he beats out the six other Democrats seeking the party’s nomination for Montana’s open U.S. House seat. In this feature interview, Strohmaier talks with News Director Sally Mauk about his progressive views on everything from women’s rights to climate change…and his new campaign ad supporting gay marriage..