Montana’s oil industry is hemorrhaging with an earth-shaking dive in petroleum prices. Montana’s petroleum industry, which has recently taken a massive hit, funds 5.6% of the state budget. Thanks to petroleum production, the average wage in Montana for those in the industry are 2/3 higher than other industries in the state and have created 29 thousand jobs for Montanans. However, the boon to Montana’s economy appears over as oil has tanked to record lows over the last several weeks.
And now to make matters worse for Montana’s economy, an Obama-appointed federal judge has just canceled hundreds of oil and gas leases due to “environmental concerns.”
Judge Brian Morris was nominated by Barrack Obama to serve the United States District Court for the State of Montana. He was recommended for that position by one of two Montana Democratic senators at the time, Max Baucus. Jon Tester, Montana’s other Democratic senator, personally vetted Morris for the position on the Judicial Nominating Committee.
On Friday, Judge Morris single-handedly shut down 300 oil and gas leases because he claimed the government did not properly consider their impact on the environment. Their impact to Montana’s recession economy seemed to be inconsequential to Morris in his decision making.
Morris sided with two radical environmental groups who sued the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), which oversees the land where the leases are held, because they claimed that the BLM did not consider the leases’ implications on so-called “climate change.”
The Tester-Obama judge said in his ruling, “The Court does not fault BLM for providing a faulty analysis of cumulative impacts or impacts to groundwater, it largely faults BLM for failing to provide any analysis.”
The BLM responded to the ruling saying, “Regardless of the ultimate outcome of this dispute and despite the attempts of radical, special interest groups, the Department and the BLM will continue to work towards ensuring America’s energy independence while preserving a healthy environment.”
The other significant ruling of Tester’s Federal Judge pick was to rule in Kulstad v Maniaci that a lesbian woman had the rights to joint-custody of her lover’s biological child.