Imperial Oil/Exxon big rigs EA gets unfriendly reception at meeting

A University of Montana economist and others tear EA apart-

It’s amazing to me that they think they can get approval by doing a mere environmental analysis report (EA) for over 200 megaloads on Montana’s highways.*

At any rate, University of Montana economist Steve Seninger and others showed the huge defect in the EA’s claim that the megaloads would give a $67.8 million benefit to Montana’s economy. There was no discussion of monetary and other costs.  In other words, the EA writes of gross benefits, when it is net benefits (if there are any) that matters.

The costs are  revenue losses in the travel/outdoor recreation industry, costs to taxpayers from accidents, traffic delays and disruptions of emergency services, premature wear of Montana’s highways and harm to wildlife, water, agriculture and timber in Western Montana.

In Idaho, Butch Otter, the Farm Bureau and others, and in Montana, a similar bunch of people speak of the job benefits, but “What you end up with is basically something less than 82 jobs for the ExxonMobil transportation project, and those jobs are primarily lower wage, lower skilled jobs in terms of flagholders and driving some of the advance cars and rear cars,”[economist] Seninger said. “In my mind, you don’t have to be an economist to say that’s really not an employment machine.”

The fact that these are low wage, low skill jobs to move sophisticated oil equipment from the far east to Alberta is why I have been calling them “jobs for peasants.”

Story: Imperial Oil/Exxon big rigs EA draws ire. By Kim Briggeman. The Missoulian.

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*To understand the controversy, folks need to mentally separate the first, 4 megaloads that are bound for the oil refinery in Billings, Montana from the 200+ bound for Alberta’s tar sand pits.