Letter: Bullock shows support for Montana energy – Billings Gazette, Aug. 12, 2013

August 12, 2013

Categories: Coal, Letters, Oil and gas


Sen. Matt Rosendale of Glendive (Aug. 5 letter) is upset by Gov. Steve Bullock’s appointments to the Board of Oil and Gas Conservation and the Coal Board, but the reasons he offers simply do not hold water. First he states that Peggy Ames Nerud should not be appointed to the BOGC because she wrote an editorial urging elimination of the tax holiday that has been in place since the 1990s to “encourage energy production.”

Research shows that 1991 saw the highest oil production of that decade in Montana; it steadily declined or remained unchanged through 2004. So the tax holiday in Montana never did lead to increased production. The senator also compares Montana to North Dakota. North Dakota’s effective tax rate over the life of a well is 10.6 percent and Montana’s is 7.4 percent.

North Dakota’s tax holiday kicks in only when oil prices drop below a trigger price, set at about $60 a barrel. The price has been hovering between $105 and $110 and barrel so their tax holiday has not been applied in years.

Bullock’s administration did not support the elimination of the gas tax holiday when it came before the Legislature.

Next up is Tom Towe, who is “responsible for a 30 percent coal tax that nearly killed Montana’s coal industry,” according to Rosendale. Montana is the sixth-largest producer of coal with the historical high in this state being 2010, when 44,700 tons of coal were mined.

Rosendale is right; energy matters. Bullock’s appointments show that he agrees.

Robyn Driscoll
Senate District 26


220 South 27th Street, Suite A
Billings, Montana 59101
(406) 248-1154