Mr. Longwell’s Odyssey: An Editorial
By Darryl L. Flowers
Sun Times Publisher
And, there is a lot happening. Far too much to cover with any adequacy in this newspaper.
Daily, reports cross my desk showing new discoveries of oil and gas in every corner of the globe. Even in places that are the very definition of poverty and despair, such as Somalia, new technologies are locating massive energy deposits.
And, closer to home, in Montana, oil and gas deposits are ready to be tapped. The deposits have long been known, and now the extraction technology is proven.
It’s time to roll up our sleeves and get this state, and this nation to work.
I am heartened in this by the bipartisan efforts as elected officials of every political stripe have, in recent weeks, taken to the record to express their support for energy development in the Treasure State.
Only weeks ago, Montana Senator Jon Tester issued a statement in support of “…responsible energy development as a ‘powerful’ tool to create jobs and spur economic growth in Montana’s Indian Country.”
In the same press release, the state’s Junior Senator described the delays encountered by Native Americans as they worked through the government bureaucracy in pursuit of minerals under Federal Lands.
Thomas “Stoney” Anketell, Councilman with the Fort Peck Assiniboine & Sioux Tribes, was quoted in the Senator’s press release as saying, when it comes to getting approvals for minerals, “It shouldn’t take months and years to get approval. If it doesn’t take that long on off-reservation lands, that’s certainly where the business will flow. The Bureau of Indian Affairs is tying up land and that’s grossly unfair.”
And, even more recently, Montana’s Senior Senator Max Baucus, issued a statement with the bold title, “MONTANA POISED TO LEAD THE NATION TOWARD ENERGY SECURITY.”
I couldn’t agree more with both of our distinguished legislators.
Which brings us to Sidney Longwell.
Mr. Longwell, who is from the land of Bayous and Red Beans and Rice – Louisiana – still retains that true Southern quality, patience.
And Mr. Longwell has certainly needed that patience.
You see, Mr. Longwell acquired a federal mineral lease in Glacier County a while back.
Thirty years ago, to be exact.
In 1982, Mr. Longwell placed a bid on a lease just a few miles to the west of East Glacier, Montana. His bid was the winner.
And since then Mr. Longwell has been subjected to a multitude of regulatory proceedings and eight studies (all at taxpayer expense).
And each time he has prevailed.
And each time he wins, those allied against Mr. Longwell have undertaken the most disgusting of tactics; they have changed the rules of the game.
Yet, through each change Mr. Longwell has jumped through the hoops.
So, now the lease is in “suspension.”
The latest tactic – in a 30 year odyssey of regulatory roadblocks – from those who would deny Mr. Longwell his well-earned right to drill was a request for a “Ethographic Study”.
The study was done, tax dollars spent to arrive at no conclusion. I have a copy of the study, and it is unreadable. Not unreadable in that it is too technical. No, it is unreadable because it has been redacted.
It seems that in that particular area of Glacier County there must be some highly sought after berries growing. If you read carefully between the blacked-out words, it’s clear that for some reason the folks at the U.S. Forest Service are mighty protective of the flora and fauna, to the extreme that they do not want to tell us, the taxpayer, what they found. As a matter of fact, the document I have is missing pages 3 – 87, if the page numbers on the document are correct.
Heard enough? There’s more to this story. Volumes, to be exact.
The ethnographic study was conducted through a U.S. government contract with Science Applications International Corporation. SAIC has dates back to the time of the Cold War. SAIC began, as the company’s website says, “to include other areas of weapons effects such as nuclear blast, simulation, and underground test instrumentation and measurements.”
(We have contacted SAIC, asking for details and they have told us they are researching the matter.)
Encouraged by the recent statements from Senator Tester and Senator Baucus, I am hopeful, and urge our state’s entire congressional delegation to do what is right. Right by Montana, its people. Right by our nation and its people.
Let Mr. Longwell proceed. Let Mr. Longwell drill for oil. Let him provide jobs for men and women, many Native Americans in Glacier County. Let the oil and the gas flow, and let the taxes flow to provide a better education and a better future for the region.
Thirty years is long enough, Senators Tester and Baucus; Congressman Rehberg.