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March 3, 2019     Sidney Herald
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March 3, 2019
 

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6 SUNDAY, MARCH 3, 2019 Editorial SIDNEY HERALD Judge was wrong to halt pipeline IY DREW JOHNSON PUBUf POUCY REStARCH A District Court judge in Montana recently or- dered a halt to construc- tion of the Keystone XL pipeline, which could transport 800,000 barrels of crude oil from Canada to the Gulf Coast each day once completed. Judge Brian Mor- ris, who was appointed by President Obama, ruled that the Trump administration approved the pipeline without adequate consideration of the project’s envi- ronmental impact. His ruling will force the administration to once again research whether the pipeline is safe and environmentally sound ——— even though six previ- ous government studies conducted by the Obama and Trump administra- tions confirm it is. The judge’s ruling is flagrant political grand- standing. Environmen- talists’ concerns about the pipeline have been repeatedly debunked. An additional review would merely squander time, resources, and tax dollars. Green activists warn that Keystone XL, or “KXL,” will sharply increase greenhouse gas emissions, boost demand for fossil fuels, and put communities along the pipeline’s roughly 1,200- mile path at risk of oil spills. These warnings are pure fearmongering. All studies of the pipeline — even those conducted un- der the Obama adminis- tration, which repeatedly delayed construction to curry favor with activ- ists concluded KXL would have a negligible impact on the environ- ment. Any increase in C02 emissions would constitute less than one percent of all US. green- house gas emissions. Nor would KXL increase fossil fuel Insurance should be based on record Big data is everywhere. Everything done online helps companies place targeted ads in front of you. Look up anything, and that product’s ad shows up on Facebook or Instagram. Granted, sometimes it can be helpful when a website seems to know exactly what I’m looking for (albeit a little creepy). But these companies aren’t tracking and sell- ing our data just for our benefit. Auto insurance compa- nies are among the many industries looking for ways to turn our online (and offline) activities into higher profits. Selling us coverage that Montana requires us to purchase, these com- panies use complicated algorithms based on our shopping habits, person- al characteristics, and other behaviors aimed to predict how each of us might react to different sized price hikes, even if our actual likelihood of causing an accident is the same. They call it “price optimization.” Driving records and how many miles we drive should play a role in how much we pay for auto insurance cover— age. It wouldn’t be fair to charge a good driver, the same price as someone who has caused several accidents. This model links the price we pay for coverage to the risk we bring to the roads. Price optimization programs don’t even claim to be based on risk; it’s just a way to charge some customers more because insurers think they can get away with it. It’s a “if our customers don't shop around, they VIEWS Ol OUI IGGdGIS consumption. Previ- ous State Department reviews determined that Canada would continue to extract oil at the same rate, no matter whether KXL operates at full ca- pacity or ceases to exist entirely. The only thing that would change is the method of transpor- tation. If KXL isn’t completed, Canadian energy producers will use trucks and trains to send the crude to refiner— ies. Those methods are actually less safe than pipelines. Transport- ing oil via truck results in nearly 20 serious incidents per “billion ton-miles.” Transporting it via rail results in 2.08 incidents per billion ton- miles. Pipelines experi- ence just 0.58 incidents per billion ton-miles. Environmentalists’ worries about oil spills are also overblown. Ac— cidents do happen —— no one denies these incred- ibly rare events. But most “pipeline ac- cidents” don’t even occur in the pipelines them- selves, but at refineries and other facilities with comprehensive backup safety measures in place. Nearly 90 percent of pipeline mishaps result in spills under one cubic meter or no spills at all -—— and 99 percent don’t affect the environment. Accidents are far rarer and less harmful than critics allege. The recent ruling makes a mockery of the justice system. It’s unac- ceptable that activist judges are stalling Amer- ica’s economic progress. KXL would generate 42,000 jobs, $66 million in sales and tax revenue, $2 billion in wages, and enlarge the economy by $3.4 billion. It’s time to end the delays. Drew Johnson is a Madison County resident who serves as a senior lellow at the National Cen- ter ior Public Policy Research. won’t notice if we charge them more” model. Our data is every- where. We need to make sure that insur- ance companies are not charging us based on our shopping habits, or how much profit they think they can squeeze out of us. We are required by law to buy insurance and lawmakers need to protect us from greedy companies who want to use price optimization techniques to judge us. We didn’t stop insur- ance companies from using our credit history to set our auto insurance premiums. Now they base policy prices on our credit and that plays a much larger role in de- termining our premiums than most people would ever guess. Allowing this practice has enabled badly acting insurance companies to charge huge amounts to good drivers with less-than- perfect credit scores. We need to protect ourselves and loved ones from insurance companies. Over the past five years, roughly 20 states have requested that insurance companies avoid price optimization — also known as “price elasticity of demand?’ ——- to rate customers’ policies. In 2015, Mon- tana’s former Insurance Commissioner Monica Lindeen issued requested this of insurance com- panies. We need current Insurance Commissioner Rosedale to reiterate this message, and we need lawmakers to enact SB 279. Montana law should require that insurance V policies be based our driving records, not what big data says about us. Alex Ricccl'di . thagston in l Ditching methane rule is good for iobs ’Oil and gas production supports more than I0 million ith in ’ IY KEVIN MOONEY . ENERGY POlICY COLUMNISI This fall, the Trump adminis- tration rolled back an Obama-era rule that regulates methane emis— sions from oil and natural gas production on federal lands. Environmental activists swiftly condemned the decision. Their concerns are unfounded. The Obama administration’s 2016 Methane and Waste Prevention Rule was duplicative and costly. By revising it, the administration will help boost job growth without harming the environment. The Bureau of Land Manage— ment introduced the 2016 rule in the waning hours of the Obama administration. The rule required energy companies to capture more methane from their wells by adopting new technologies and protocols. The goal was to reduce carbon emissions, since methane is a major greenhouse gas. The Waste Prevention Rule was a costly solution in search of a problem. Regulations to limit methane emissions already exist at both the federal (1 state lev- els. The BLM rule Simply added a new, duplicative layer. The rule also ignored that en- ergy firms have a strong incentive to minimize methane emissions. Methane is the main component in natural gas, the very thing firms are trying to extract and sell. Energy firms that let meth- ane escape are foregoing profits. That’s why firms have already taken action to capture every possible cubic foot of methane. According to EPA data, methane emissions from the oil and gas sector were dropping long be- fore the Waste Prevention Rule. Between 1990 and now, a period the United States. The average wage for these positions is nearly 90 percent higher than the national average, according to the Bureau of labor Statistics.’ Kevin Mooney during which natural gas produc- tion increased 50 percent, indus- try-related methane emissions have fallen 14 percent. A separate report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administra- tion found that total US. methane emissions barely changed from 2000 to 2013. In short, the industry is already accomplishing what the rule set out to do. Keeping it in place would have made it more expensive for firms to operate on federal property, costing many workers their jobs. The existing overlapping federal regulations had already harripered’ oil and gas production‘on federal lands. Consider that from 2010 to 2015, natural gas productiOn shot up 55 percent on state and private lands but declined by 18 percent on federal lands. These restrictions haven’t merely limited the nation’s ability to become energy independent; they’ve also cost the federal gov- ernment billions of dollars in lost royalties. And they’ve cost many workers the chance at a high- paying job. Oil and gas production supports more than 10 million jobs in the United States. The av- erage wage for these positions is nearly 90 percent higher than the national average, according to the Columnist Bureau of Labor Statistics. Ironically, the BLM rule may have even harmed the environ- ment. Here’s why. The recent explosion in natu- ral gas production has sharply lowered the price of natural gas, making it cheaper than coal. As a result, many power plants have transitioned from coal to natu- ral gas, which burns 50 percent cleaner than coal. The switch to natural gas has driven an unprecedented 14 per- cent drop in energy-related car- bon dioxide emissions since 2005. In fact, carbon dioxide emissions ’ *"sre‘howats-zsyiéhiow; " Rolling back‘the BLM regula: tion would have little impact on methane emissions, since compa- nies already have every reason to harvest this valuable gas. It will allow more energy production on federal lands. That means more high-paying jobs. And it means more utility companies will switch to cleaner-burning natural gas. Kevin Mooney is an investigative reporter who writes about energy policy and environ- mental issues. His worlc is r ularly ieatured by the Daily Signal, the Wcfiiin ton Exam- iner, the American Spectator an National Review. This piece originally can in The Detroit r News. Support youth suicide prevention bills boyup” This legislation would gets the credit. All' that or REPS. um ANN auuwru ' mental- help give schools, teach- matters is that we get Aunan mama ity that ers, and students the something done. The discour— ’ tools they need to learn pain of losing a loved Montana is a state ages folks strategies to seek help one to death by suicide with a proud history of from for themselves and oth- is a pain shared by all of firsts, reaching ers. us —— it doesn’t belong to We were the first State Rep, . out when The additional funding any one legislator. state to elect a woman they need through HB 187’s grant Montana communi- to Congress: our very help -—I program could make a ties are asking for these own Jeannette Rankin, Joel mm" or from huge difference for our bills, and these programs We were also the first embrac- ' rural schools, which could save lives. It’s time state in the nation to ing someone who has are already strapped to show the leadership enact sweeping anti. reached out. for cash, and HB 186 Montanans are desper— corruption legislation The more research that would take critical steps ately crying out for from in the Copper King era, we conduct on this tragic towards screening for their legislators. after wealthy business public health crisis, the depression and mental We urge our colleagues interests in our state more we learn about health struggles among to show a strong bi- used their influence to how we can address this our student body. partisan commitment buy a Senate seat, . issue and save lives. These bills are not to suicide prevention But in same measures, Several evidence-based magic’potions, and they and mental health care, Montana’s first-place Sta- programs have made a Wouldn’t make a dif- especially in Montana’s tus is not always worthy real difference in the ference overnight. But schools. of celebration, lives of students from we were deeply disap- Our students are According to a 2018 the early grades all the pointed to see both these counting on us to set study by the Center way through high school. bills tabled recently. We politics aside, join hands, for Disease Control, Younger students need a comprehensive and tackle this issue Montana ranks first in are taught to play good package to address sui- together. We’re sitting at the nation for death by behavior “games” to cide prevention, and we the table — come join us suicide —— and the epi. build resiliency, and in needed it yesterday. = demic is only growing, middle and high school, For us, this is personal. , our state facesa rate of students are taught how We’ve both lost constitu- Rep. Mary Ann Dunwell (D-HD youth death by suicide to talk to each other ents to death by suicide, 84) represents Helena/ East Hel- that is three times the and identify when their and we have countless one and Rep. Joel Krautter (R-HD national average, And on friends may need help. more constituents who 35) represents Sidney/Richland our Indian reservations, They learn who to go have loved ones who died County in the 66th$ession oi the that suicide rate is even to if a situation arises, by suicide. Montana State legislature. greater, and they are taught to It doesn’t matter who , We are facing a public do SOmching if they see ' health crisis. . segmithltngt. alr d I . Montana, in many u w a we’ve ea y .h 3 a ways, is a perfect storm done is not enough- I of circumstances that $6? Prgigratfns (2111‘: reg;i factors into bur higher I‘ “11 BI" 1111 e . an than average‘ death by more action is needed to . SERVING 'I'HE MON DAK suicide rate. , address the severity» and REGION SINCE I908 Some Vof those include the urgency. 0f Mon- the isolation of living in tagger suictilde erminis. KellyMillor, Publisher a rural lace, eas access at’8 W We tro- . to fireafms, and oi,“Cow- duced HB 186 and 137. Bill Vander Weele, Editor r'w N‘s-«Mr a:wa ., w... .. ,