Saturday, April 30, 2016

Senator Tester 'cutting through the gridlock'



Senator Jon Tester (D-MT) and this blog follow each other on Twitter. As rail coal traffic dies Tester wants to restore the Hiawatha Line. He and his colleague, Tom Udall (D-NM) are leading efforts to improve the Indian Health Service.
Dear Larry,

For too long politics has forced Congress into a gridlock.

Today elected officials are more interested in scoring political points, than doing what is right for the folks they represent.

But last week, I helped lead a bipartisan group of Senators through that gridlock and we delivered for our state's energy future, outdoor economy, and transportation infrastructure.

A decade ago, America was a net importer of energy. Today, America is more energy secure than ever - thanks not only to oil and gas development, but also dramatic advances in wind and solar energy. This week, I joined my colleagues to pass a bill that builds on this success. The Energy Modernization Policy Act, invests in an all-of-the above energy strategy that includes wind, solar, geothermal, oil, gas, and coal.

This bill will cut red tape on the permitting process for renewable energy projects and it prioritizes clean coal research and development.

At a time when the coal industry is facing competition from low natural gas prices and changing consumer demand, this bill takes steps forward to protect our good-paying jobs and it addresses the bizarre changes in weather patterns that are threatening Montana's agriculture and outdoor industries.

Speaking of Montana's great outdoors, this bill permanently reauthorizes the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF).

The LWCF is used to increase public access to public land for folks who love to hunt, fish, and hike.

Additionally, this bill helps establish more shooting ranges on our public lands, and it requires most BLM and Forest Service lands to be open for hunting, fishing, and shooting.

But the week of bipartisanship didn't stop when we passed the Energy Policy Modernization Act.

The Senate also made significant investments in Montana's airports by reauthorizating the Federal Aviation Administration.

I was able to successfully add several amendments to strengthen our national security to this bill, including requiring folks to look at the feasibility of installing the most up-to-date security equipment at all Montana airports.

I also was able to pass an amendment that doubles the number of security teams monitoring baggage claims and increases law enforcement training for active shooter situations.

These amendments will make traveling safer and invest in critical transportation infrastructure.

It was the a breath of fresh air in the Senate, and going forward I will continue to reach across the aisle and ensure that Congress is doing what's best for Montana.

It's an honor to serve you in the U.S. Senate,

Jon