Guest Opinions

Montana citizen group responds to
Trump appointment to head Interior Department
By BETH KAEDING

Beth Kaeding of Bozeman, past chair of the Northern Plains Resource Council, issued the following statement on behalf of Northern Plains on the announcement that Rep. Ryan Zinke has been offered the position of Secretary of the Interior:
“Congressman Zinke has worked to shortchange the public on our federal mineral leases and royalties, so it is an appointment that concerns us. We have joined with thousands across the West to close loopholes for coal companies exporting coal to China and Pacific Rim countries, and he has resisted those reforms to end corporate welfare at the expense of local, state and tribal coffers.
“He also opposes common-sense efforts to limit the ability of oil and gas companies to intentionally waste taxpayer-owned gas by flaring from oil wells on public lands.”

Beth Kaeding is the past chair of the Northern Plains Resource Council.

Montana Farmers
Union reacts to Interior
Secretary appointment
By Alan Merrill

Montana Farmers Union is grateful for Congressman Zinke’s work in supporting Montana’s farmers and ranchers.
Having a cabinet member who understands western issues including the intricacies of public land issues is a definite asset to Montana. We appreciate the opportunity to be part of the congressman’s ag advisory committee. He was very gracious in meeting with our members in D.C. and as a guest at our convention. We wish Congressman Zinke the best and look forward to working with the delegation to be a voice for our members and all of Montana.

Alan Merrill is the president of the Montana Farmers Union.

Montana Wilderness
Association reacts to Secretary of Interior appointment
By BRIAN SYBERT

Should he be appointed secretary of Interior, we expect Rep. Ryan Zinke to carry Montana’s values into that role. That means protecting access to public lands, ensuring our forests and prairies are indeed managed for multiple use and not just resource extraction, and respecting that wild places and public lands are core American values that he’ll need to protect for all citizens. Rep. Zinke has a checkered record when it comes to public lands, including a vote for developing wilderness areas, but has taken a few good votes against lands transfer and for the Land and Water Conservation Fund. Rep. Zinke has called himself a Roosevelt conservationist, and we will hold him to everything that definition entails.

Brian Sybert is the executive director of the Montana Wilderness Association. 

Daines slams FCC’s
overregulation of small business

U.S. Senator Steve Daines slammed the Federal Communications Commission for failing to relieve small businesses of burdensome regulations found in the FCC’s 317-page “net neutrality” rules.
The FCC failed to extend a small business exemption to the so-called “enhanced transparency requirements,” which requires internet service providers to disclose an excess of information about their network performance, some of which may require investing in new equipment and hiring an engineer.
“The FCC’s decision to subject small businesses to the enhanced transparency rules purely for political reasons is inexcusable,” Daines said. “These small businesses are run by hardworking Americans who provide essential services and create jobs. These businesses will now be subject to an excess of new regulations due to a baseless decision by unelected bureaucrats.”
The small business exemption has strong bipartisan support, the House of Representatives voted in favor of the exemption 411-0. The exemption is also supported by the Small Business Administration.
Daines has long advocated for a small business exemption to the enhanced transparency requirements. Last year, Daines introduced the Small Business Broadband Deployment Act, which would have made the exemption permanent. He also led a bipartisan, bicameral effort urging the FCC to take action before the existing exemption expired.

Access Elk Country Initiative supports hunters
By MARK HOLYOAK

The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation salutes its Access Elk Country Initiative partners ALPS OutdoorZ, Bushnell, Gerber, Kimber, Sitka, Winchester, Yamaha Outdoors and YETI Coolers for supporting efforts to open and improve public access.
“We hear over and over from sportsmen and women about the importance of our access work,” said Steve Decker, RMEF vice president of Marketing. “We appreciate the support of our conservation partners who step up financially to bolster our mission.”
RMEF recently rolled over the one million-acre milestone in access opened or improved. TheAccess Elk Country Initiative uses acquisitions, exchanges, road and trail projects, relationships with private landowners and other means to secure and improve access to difficult-to-reach public lands and benefit hunting, fishing, hiking and other forms of outdoor recreation.

2016 highlights:
 • New Mexico project opens/improves access to 40,000+ acres of public land
 • Montana project removes house, expands wildlife management area
 • Utah project protects access to 3,800 acres of public land
 • New Mexico road easement opens door to 52,000 acres of public land
 • Idaho project expands wildlife management area
 • Wyoming project improves access to 6,400 acres of public land
 • Montana project improves access to 5,500 acres of public land
“We have plenty more work to do. The Access Elk Country Initiative aims for a goal of opening or securing access to 50,000 acres of public lands each year over the next three years,” added Decker.

Mark Holyoak is the communication director for the Rocky Mountain Elk Fountain.

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