|Drilling the Blackleaf Canyon wells. Photo courtesy Montana Board of Oil and Gas.|
The subjects to be addressed at the meeting are:
• State and private mineral lease sales and production tax revenue flow.
• State minerals and school trust land’s role in school funding.
• State assistance in local infrastructure funding.
The speakers slated for the event are from the Montana legislative fiscal division. They are:
• Terry W. Johnson, Principal Fiscal Analyst
• Jim Standaert, Senior Fiscal Analyst
• Cathy Duncan, Senior Fiscal Analyst
Representative Christy Clark, R-HD17, who helped to organize the speakers for the event, issued this statement to the Sun Times:
The presenters for the meeting are the legislative fiscal division, which as you may already know, is the folks who work for the legislature. In order to have them give a presentation it must requested by two legislators, one Democrat and one Republican.
I made the initial request and fortunately Rep. Bob Melhoff made another request on my behalf to fulfill the non-partisan requirement. It is unusual for the legislative fiscal division to travel to communities for the purpose of educating constituents, but under the circumstances and due to the complicated nature of Montana’s tax structure it is appropriate.
Once our communities understand how the revenue stream flows from gas and oil then it will be time to identify how we can harness that revenue to protect impacted areas and respond in a timely fashion to the needs of residents. There are several different approaches to the next step but it appears all of the will require legislation to needed changes in the tax codes.
Following the first meeting I will contact a couple of other people who have some ideas about changes that would increase funding to impacted schools and towns. Last fall I toured eastern Montana and western North Dakota meeting with community leaders, school officials and oil companies to study the pitfalls of oil impact. I am convinced educating our communities is the first critical step in responsible planning.
We have the advantage of learning from other’s mistakes so that rapid growth doesn’t devastate our communities the way it has in some of the other areas. I encourage everyone to attend the meeting on Thursday, as well as the subsequent follow up meetings to understand that some changes will be necessary if we wish to be ahead of the negatives and enjoy the positives that come with added oil revenue.
According to documents reviewed by the Sun Times, from 1984 to 1990, a single natural gas “field” in Teton County contributed over $1.8 million to the Teton County Treasury, with a portion of those proceeds flowing to the state.
The field was known as Blackleaf Canyon.
The well, still capable of production, was shut down after pressure from out-of-state environmentalists.
The wells were recently “plugged and abandoned” and the minerals in the area have been “withdrawn”.