This one caught our eye yesterday – a Kalispell middle school student and Boy Scout penned an excellent opinion letter in the Daily Interlake, calling out Sen. Steve Daines over his anti-public lands votes, even after pledging to protect them while running for the senate last year.
The letter points out several votes just in recent months that go against Daines’ campaign rhetoric on public lands, and doesn’t pull any punches in taking Daines to task for his inconsistency:
“You have recently voted for several bills and amendments which contradict what you said that you stood for… The people of Montana value their public lands and your actions do not represent the values of our state”
Despite this type of response by Montanans, and continuous lack of public support for the idea, Daines and many others on the far-right wing of the Republican Party continue to support these ideas of weakening, and even transferring ownership of Montana’s public lands.
Even polling done recently by the oil and gas industry, who would stand to make a lot of money off public land transfer, shows very little support for the idea. This survey, conducted by the oil and gas lobbying group Western Energy Alliance showed that barely more than 1 in 3 Americans support transferring public lands, and you can bet that number would be even lower if they only asked Montanans.
But despite the resounding public consensus that selling off public lands is a very bad idea, like Daines a number of right-wing politicians in Montana and nationally continue to push the issue. This seems to be driven mostly by a number of extremist groups urging Republican lawmakers to support public land transfer. The Missoula Independent did an excellent piece a little while back on why these ideas won’t seem to go away, despite a massive lack of public support.
But, even with extremists and shady outside groups pushing this dangerous agenda, it’s hard to see land transfer proposals actually making it very far. If Daines and others actually got anywhere close to making this a reality, it seems pretty likely that Montanans would vote for just about anyone else to get them out of office. If there’s one thing that Montanans of all ideologies can agree on, it’s that we value our public lands, and we’re not about to let anyone mess with them.