Letter: Short-term profits cause long-term ruin – Billings Gazette, Nov. 10, 2013

November 12, 2013

Categories: Clean Water, Letters, Oil and gas


Whenever a corporation wants to drill, frack, extract, explore, it is always presented as a great opportunity for the community. We are not that stupid.

Montana’s ranchers depend on water for their livelihoods. The state has been in a quasi-drought state for years. Fracking utilizes enormous amounts of water and the benefits? Well, the economic benefits accrue to the corporation, in this case Energy Corporation of America. Energy Corporation of America is a short term investor in Montana.

Fracking and other energy-related activities do not benignly boost the local economy. Witness the increase in crime rates in the Bakken. Witness the explosion in domestic violence (just one category of crime). The inflated wages earned on the field make it impossible for communities to hire and retain educators, law enforcement officials and the like. The Bakken is like an oil rush town. There is an explosion of economic activity, but what will the region look like in 10 years? Sustainable economic development, managed responsibly, leads to stronger communities. There is no evidence that the corporations involved in developing the Bakken are interested in sustainability, preserving the social fabric of communities — or anything other than the bottom line.

When you change the social fabric of a town, money does not fix that. When you destroy a wildlife habitat, the elk and deer are not lured back by money.

Those of us who live in and love Montana view our state through a lens with many prisms. Corporate profits and job creation are only some of those prisms. We also value the natural beauty of the state, the wildlife habitats, the sense of community in so many of our small towns, the precious resource of water.

We are the long-term investors in Montana. We understand that a short-term profit focus can lead to long-term ruin. It is time to stand up to corporations that are only focused on their short-term profits, particularly those that come at the expense of our long-term interests.

Lee Wilder

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