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July 27, 2016     Sidney Herald
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6A, WEDNESDAY, JULY 27, 2016 Viewpoints SIDNEY HERALD BILL VANBER WEELE I SIDNEY HERALD Richland County Commissioner Duone Mitchell gets in on the fun at Richlond Pork. TwO T [ Because of some great contributions, we now have a park outside of the city limits that we can really be proud. Richland Park, located between Sidney and Fairview, features a great new playground that includes Monkey Bars and the first Zip Line in our coun The playground came about because of contributions from the coun Walleyes Unlimited and Pheasants Forever. We thank them for their dedication. A few years ago, the park didn't offer a whole loL But look at it now! Because of an Eagle Scout project, there is a nine-hole disc golf course. There is also a nature walk and a community gathering area for picnics to be held. A boat ramp also makes fishing more popular at the park. Let's maintain the park in its current great attention. Let's also make a point to use the park for family and group gatherings. Richland Park is certainly something we all should take pride in. SSlOnS re BY JEFF STIER Obama administration. NATIONAL CENTER FOR PUBLIC POLICY The EPA recently issued new methane regulations The Environmental to significantly cut meth- Protection Agency's latest ane pollution in the oil report on greenhouse gas and gas sector. The revised emissions demonstrates findings will help justify shrewd political strategy these standards. -- and a wanton disregard Meanwhile, the report for objective science, deflects attention from last Using a questionable year's leader in methane methodology, the EPA emissions: animals like found that the nation's cattle, sheep, and swine. methane emissions have The 2015 EPA report been dramatically higher found that the American in recent years than previ- livestock population has ously thought. And for the produced more methane EPA, this is a story with a pollution than the natural villain: In a major depar- gas industry every year ture from earlier studies, since at least 2009. this year's report claims A regulatory crackdown the oil and gas industry is aimed at the agricultural the nation's chief methane industry-- or steak-lovers, culprit, for that matter -- is a Green activists were political non-starter. From quick to trumpet the new the CPA's perspective, bet- findings as proof that the ter to blame on the oil and energy industry is behind gas industry. all of our environmental But by putting politics ills. before science, the EPA is Never mind the fact that missing an opportunity oil and gas companies to substantially reduce have actually been driving emissions. The shale the nation's recent historic energy boom has led to reductions in greenhouse an abundance of low-cost gas emissions. Rather natural gas -- an energy than supporting an energy source that emits roughly model that continues to half the CO2 of coal. If drive down emissions, environmental regulators regulators prefer to point are genuinely interested the finger at Big Oil. in cutting emissions, they There's reason to be should abandon their skeptical of the CPA's attempts to undermine new data. First, years one of the few industries of government research helping on this front. The show that methane emis- EPA should work instead sions from the oil and gas to spread this pollution- industries have actually cutting energy model to been falling. According to other nations. last year's report from the Consider exports of EPA, methane pollution liquefied natural gas. At from natural gas dropped a time when America has by nearly 11 percent from become the global leader 2005 to 2013. The new study, in natural gas production, by contrast, shows a de- Western Europe remains cline of less than 1 percent dependent on Russia for during that period, their gas. Expanding our That statistic is mysteri- natural gas exports would ous considering that the provide our allies with a energy sector has taken more reliable supply of a many steps to reduce fuel. emissions. Nationwide, That environmentalists since 2000, oil and gas are unlikely to support companies have invested such a policy is telling. As $90 billion in technologies the new EPA report makes designed to slash harmful clear, the green move- pollutants, ment is more interested in It's also impossible to smearing the oil and gas ignore the political am- industry than in acknowl- munition these updated edging the facts. estimates provide for the l was born and raised in rural Montana. In fact, I still farm the same land that my grandparents homesteaded over a century ago west of Big Sandy. I strongly believe that there is no better place to live, or raise a family, than in a rural communi Across Montana, rural towns like Big Sandy have so much to offer folks like quality schools, reliable neighbors, and an unmatched qual- ity of life. But if folks are uncertain whether they'll have access to health care, they'll think twice about settling down in our rural communities. We need healthy families to ensure we have healthy communities. So I recently brought health care professionals from around the country and Montana to meet in Ennis and discuss the challenges facing rural and frontier health care providers and patients. My Rural Health Summit was the first of its kind, and we identified some of the barriers that are keep- ing rural families from accessing quality health care in their commu- nities. Following the Summit, I turned the ideas raised there into multiple bills, including my Restoring Rural some of these decision makers in Helena have never been out to Eastern Montana and enjoyed Fort Peck Lake -- you couldn't find a bet- ter time to visit than now. It's a lake that boasts a coastline greater than the coast of California. It's some of the best deer and elk hunting and walleye fishing you're ever gonna find. As I type, the famed Governor's Cup Walleye Tourna- ment is about to get underway. On the north end of the lake, you'll find the historic town of Fort Peck. Grab a steak at the Gateway. Catch a show at the Fort Peck Summer The- atre. Camp at Kiwanis Park. Visit the Interpretive Center. Pay your respects to our nation's finest at the newly minted Northeast Montana Veterans Memorial. But for many Montanans the best way to access Fort Peck Lake is through the Hell Creek State Park and Marina at the south side of the Governor has failed with infrastructure bills There has been a lot of talk about infrastructure since the last Mon- tana legislative session. Cities, counties and school dis- tricts across the state have legitimate needs in maintaining, repairing and upgrading infrastructure in their jurisdictions. Some help from the state would be welcomed. Unfortunately, the Montana Legislature has had an obstacle in its efforts to provide that help. That obstacle is Gov. Bullock. In the 2013 session, the legisla- ture passed a bill that would have helped with infrastructure projects in Montana and primarily eastern Montana's acute needs. It passed with an overwhelming Residencies Act, which will allow Medicare to pay for the time resident doc- tors spend training at rural hospitals. If we want more doctors to practice in Senator rural areas, we need to train them in rural Jan Tester areas, and that is exactly what this bill does. My bill will in- crease the number of doctors train- ing in rural hospitals, and it will encourage more medical profession- als to stay and work in these com- munities. Additionally, I heard from folks who are struggling with the rising cost of caring for an aging loved one. In fact, across Montana 118,000 folks serve as family caregivers and provide $1.4 billion in uncompen- sated care each year. Family caregivers need more sup- port, and that is why I am PuShing to create a $3,000 tax credit for indi- viduals who provide daily care for an aging family member. These additional resources will help families pay for home modifica- tions and medical supplies, as well as lake. Unfortunately, the current administra- tion under Gov. Steve Bullock is working to take that access away. In fact, just last fall, Bullock's appointees on the newly created State parks board proposed senator walking away from Hell Creek State John Brenden Park entirely. And you know what their excuse was? Money. That's right, the political appointees in state government have no problem throwing nearly $8 million at taking a cattle ranch out of production, but then claim that they have to shut down Hell Creek State Park in East- ern Montana because- money? The reality is, come hell or high water, Montanans can get the job Views of our readers bipartisan majority. The governor vetoed that bill. We passed another infrastructure bill during the 2015 session, Senate Bill 354, that would have created a program within the state's coal severance tax to fund infrastructure projects. That bill was also vetoed. As the 2015 session came to a close, SB416 came through the House. It had pork barrel projects that the gov- ernor insisted on including. About $40 million was designated to build a museum in Helena and to reno- vate a gymnasium at Montana State Universi Many Republican representatives did not agree that these projects were immediate needs so offered an amendment to put the funding of around 50 statewide school mainte- nance projects and around 75 state- wide water and sewer projects as the in "My bill will increase the number of doctors training in rural hospitals, and it will encourage more medical professionals to stay and work in these communities.' Jan Tester U.S. senator help reimburse folks for lost wages and unpaid time off due to providing care. These are just two of the many solutions that came out of my Rural Health Summit. As we move forward I will con- tinue to push for common-sense solu- tions that will improve the health of rural families and our rural com- munities. I believe that strengthening health care in rural Montana is critical be- cause the health of our communities depend on it. done and save Hell Creek. We simply need new, innovative leaders in the governor's office in Helena that are willing to work with the people to find solutions. For example, administrative costs have apparently become one of the big burdens with Hell Creek State Park from the state's perspective. I'm told that locals have offered to help FWP manage the site, offering a significant savings to the State of Montana. Instead of "walking away" from Hell Creek, state officials should be walking to the table with the local community that has offered to help keep Hell Creek open. I've heard gubernatorial candidate Greg Gianforte talk with locals here in Scobey, Glasgow, and elsewhere about bringing "a culture of custom- er service" back to state government. Boy is that needed in this situation. bill's priority. The governor and his allies re- fused to accept the amendment and ignored the needs of the state. SB 416 failed to pass because of a governor that is not interested in working with the legislature. Blaming Republicans for the failure of SB 416 is dishonest, and making infrastructure funding a campaign issue now is disingenuous. Amazingly, the governor is now proposing a plan that is almost iden- tical to Senate Bill 354 as the corner- stone of his infrastructure plans. Gov. Bullock has failed in two legislative sessions on infrastructure bills for this state. It is time that Montana elects a new governor. Rep. Keith Recjior House Majority Leader to US SERVING THE MONDAK REGION SINCE 1908 Karen Brown, Publisher Bill Vander Weele, Editor The Sidney Herald welcomes letters to the editor. Whether political, a problem in the city or neighbor- hood, or to pat someone on the back, let us know what's on your mind. All letters must include the your facts. 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