ICYMI: Daines “Favored” by Anti-Public Lands Donors [E&E News] 

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Thursday, August 27, 2020

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ICYMI: Daines “Favored” by Anti-Public Lands Donors [E&E News] 
Helena, MT – Yesterday, a new report highlighted Senator Steve Daines’ refusal to condemn the Republican Party platform, which calls for the transfer of federal lands. Time and time again, Daines has refused to stand up to his party when it comes to Montana’s public lands. During his time in Congress, Daines has voted against permanently reauthorizing the Land and Water Conservation Fund, to pull back millions from the program, and to open the door to the sale of public lands in Montana. 

The report also detailed Daines’ history of pocketing campaign cash from “fossil fuel and development interests” like the Wilks Brothers, who are known “for their battles with outdoor recreation and conservation advocates over public lands access,” and oil executive Dan Eberhardt. Eberhardt plans to launch “a significant independent expenditure” this fall in order to rescue Daines’ political career. No surprise, since Daines has welcomed over $2 million in campaign contributions from corporate special interests. 

E&E News: Daines spars with greens over Republican platform

By: Jennifer Yanchin 


“The advocacy group Montana Conservation Voters called on Daines and other GOP officials to oppose their party’s platform, citing a provision adopted in 2016 that directs Congress to pass legislation to dispose of federal public lands (E&E Daily, July 12, 2016).

Amid the novel coronavirus pandemic, which prompted both major parties to opt for virtual presidential nominating conventions this year, the GOP decided not to update its platform, meaning the lands provision remains intact.

“Politicians don’t get to dupe Montana voters by supporting public lands and a political position opposing public lands at the same time without having to answer uncomfortable questions,” said MCV Executive Director Aaron Murphy, a former top aide to Montana Sen. Jon Tester (D).

Daines faces an aggressive challenge from term-limited Gov. Steve Bullock (D). The Cook Political Report rates the race as a toss-up, its most competitive ranking.


Daines may be running on his conservation credentials, but he is also counting on fossil fuel and development interests.

Dan Eberhart, a Republican donor and CEO of Colorado-based Canary LLC, confirmed to E&E News that he plans to wade into the race with a significant independent expenditure ahead of Election Day.

Eberhart will spend $50,000 on radio ads criticizing Bullock, which will air in the state in September and October.

Eberhart did not offer more specifics, but during his primary bid, Bullock campaigned on promises to roll back fossil fuel production on public lands, including cutting the number of lease sales hosted by the Bureau of Land Management and achieving net-zero carbon emissions on public lands by 2030 (Greenwire, Sept. 27, 2019).

Although Daines was once a political candidate favored by the billionaire brothers Farris and Dan Wilks — who are among the nation’s top private landowners, with more than 708,000 acres in Montana alone according to a 2019 tally compiled by The Land Report 


The co-founders of Frac Tech, the Wilks brothers are known in part for their battles with outdoor recreation and conservation advocates over public lands access.

In one instance, the duo settled with the Bureau of Land Management in 2016 after improperly building a fence across public lands (Greenwire, July 22, 2016).

Federal Election Commission records show that the Wilks brothers and other members of their families donated more than $46,000 to various committees supporting Daines between 2012 and 2015.”


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