We all lose out when oil and gas industry gets a free ride, The Prairie Star (also Billings Gazette, Missoulian), March 7, 2015
The oil and gas industry is a boom and bust venture. Companies get in as quickly as possible, extract as much of the resource as possible, make millions of dollars, and then get out just as quickly, leaving behind a mess of abandoned wells, frack water storage areas, torn up farmland, depleted and unusable water, crumpled roads, and a local economy in tatters.
Unlike neighboring North Dakota, Montana gives oil and gas companies a holiday on paying taxes on the first 12 to 18 months of production from a new well, regardless of how high oil prices are and how profitable production is. Contrast this with North Dakota, where only when the price of oil falls below $52 a barrel, does it lower the production tax rate.
In North Dakota, oil companies pay their fair share, especially when wells are most profitable, and the state has ensured a revenue stream to deal with the ongoing infrastructure needs of impacted communities. Montana has lost out on hundreds of millions of dollars since 2008, according to the nonprofit Montana Budget and Policy Center. Montana must take advantage of this boom and bust cycle instead of waiting until the initial production of a well is used up scot-free.
Call your legislator today and ask them to support bills HB 420, HB 591, and SB 374 now in the Session that would rescind the oil and gas tax holiday, and make industry pay its fair share before they leave for greener pastures.