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The Montana Manufacturing Council and the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) released a new study — "A Critical Review of the Benefits and Costs of EPA Regulations on the U.S. Economy" – which, examines the harmful impact of several burdensome Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations on Montana's economy. The study finds that the annual compliance costs of the EPA's proposed Utility MACT, Boiler MACT, and Coal Combustion Residuals regulations on Montana will be over $172 million.
The Montana Department of Commerce (MDOC) has awarded $44,050 of Big Sky Economic Development Trust Fund (BSTF) planning grants, to two Montana organizations to promote business growth.
BSTF planning funds are awarded to local Certified Regional Development Corporations (CRDC), tribal governments and local economic development agencies not located in a CRDC region, to assist in planning efforts to promote long-term, stable economic growth in both the region and Montana.
Those who regularly follow the decisions of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit will have recently noticed changes in the opinions filed electronically on the court's Internet website: www.ca9.uscourts.gov/opinions. Since early November, the court has been processing opinions in-house rather than contracting for that service from West Publishing. The change is expected to produce a substantial cost savings for the court.
Representatives of a broad range of community organizations and local government met, last week, to compare notes about what they expect and hope for, from the next Montana State Legislature.
The primary purpose of the gathering, which is planned to be repeated, weekly, throughout the legislative session, is to help support each other's issues.
In a year when most state legislatures were engaged in budgetary belt-tightening, Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer and public employee union representatives agreed to a pay plan package that would cost taxpayers $138 million. According to the agreement, each of the next two years state workers would receive both a five percent raise in pay and a 10 percent increase in the state contribution toward health insurance premiums. After the pay plan agreement was reached, a local representative of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) argued that it was necessary to "bring us closer to being compensated fairly with those in the private sector."
Differing factions are drawing lines in the sand regarding the development of the Tongue River Railroad. A series of scoping hearings were held by the federal Surface Transportation Board, in several communities, to decide what issues to consider in the Environmental Review.
Both environmental and business organizations issued press releases. The Northern Plains Resource Council stated that they oppose the railroad. "Farmers, ranchers, Native peoples, and landowners along the route are organizing to stop this ill-conceived project that would turn the agricultural Tongue River Valley into an industrial corridor — all for the sake of shipping Montana coal to China and other Asian markets. The Northern Plains Resource Council has successfully fought this railroad for 30 years."
The Big Sky Business Journal
P.O. Box 3262
Billings, MT 59103