By Derf Johnson
Most of us know that Montana’s public lands are a valuable resource. The American public benefits immensely from Montana’s many acres of public lands. Montana would just not be Montana without our easily accessible wide-open spaces. What many people don’t know is that oil, gas, and mining companies have been filling their bank accounts and providing executive bonuses while abusing our public lands, all while refusing to adequately compensate the public.
For too long, powerful special interests like oil, gas and mining companies have been committing highway robbery on the American public. They mine and drill on public lands that belong to all federal taxpayers, but pay far below what’s just, fair, or reasonable. These companies extract valuable public resources at bargain basement prices, owing largely to the close relationship such corporations enjoy with politicians and a set of outdated land management policies.
Once the public resources are extracted, the profit largely goes to benefit private mining companies and their shareholders. And, as we have seen over and over in Montana, many of these companies often turn tail, declare bankruptcy, and leave a mess for Montana and federal taxpayers to clean up.