Fear Mongering

To the Editor I read the articles about all of the meetings with concerned citizens who are upset about the potential of developing our oil reserves in Carbon and Stillwater Counties. Well, for us who have been around here for more than twenty plus years it brings to mind a different but similar situation. A couple of decades ago there was a mining company who wanted to explore and mine the chromium in the upper Stillwater River Basin. Oh my God! The concerned citizens at the time were making statements to the tune that the mining operation was going turn the upper Stillwater into a Berkley Pit, the river would be contaminated beyond recovery and all of our lives will be ruined from the toxic waste. Well, after all the fear mongering and hateful rhetoric the Stillwater Mine has been one of the biggest economic contributors to three counties. The Stillwater River remains a blue ribbon trout stream and is heavy visited yearly by recreationist. Yes there have been some downsides to having the mining in Stillwater County; however, a lot of people have directly and indirectly benefited from the good paying jobs it provides to the area. In fact there have been many an area ranching operation benefited from the added income of someone in the family working at the mine. This added income has helped pay off mortgages and kept them in the ranching business during the lean years. Every year we hear the politicians jabber about keeping our youth here in Montana with good paying jobs. My eldest son graduated from Montana Tech of the University of Montana with a degree in petroleum engineering. He has been employed every year since his graduation from college. He has worked in every mountain state east of the Rocky Mountain Divide except Montana, this includes the heavy regulated state of Colorado. The exploration and development of Montana’s natural resources along with farming and ranching was and is the foundation of this state. If you do not believe me take a good hard look at our Montana State Flag. Tourism and recreation have now evolved into the state’s second leading economy; however, it is has a history of entry-level jobs that are typically seasonal. This state needs a stable and strong economy that supports a strong tax base, provides money for infrastructure/schools, and creates good paying jobs that keeps our youth working here in Montana. Should we just turn a blind eye to industry with a trust me attitude, no way! However, with proper regulation and oversight, we can have our cake and eat it too. It does not have to be one way or the highway attitude. In May 2011 EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson testified in a Senate Hearing Committee stating that she is not aware of any proof where the fracking process itself has contaminated ground water. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but you are not entitled to your own facts. Gary Lay Roberts