Editorial: A win-win agreement for Fort Peck Tribes
"Beneath the radar of most folks in central and western Montana — but not folks in the east and in Helena where tax revenue is tallied — is an oil boom in northeast Montana and North Dakota. Up to now, there's been a kind of doughnut hole in a map that development — more of a trapezoid, actually — delineated by the borders of the Fort Peck Indian Reservation.

Although experts say the rez sits on the oil-rich Bakken Formation, at present just two wells are producing there.

That, however, is about to change.

On Tuesday, Tribal Chairman Rusty Stafne and Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer signed a tax-sharing agreement under which oil extracted on the Fort Peck will be taxed just once, and at rates similar to those levied on oil in the surrounding area.

Previously oil was taxed twice — once by the state and again by the tribe — and that is the main thing officials blame for the lack of oil and gas development to date.

"It's been really frustrating to really pinpoint the exact reason there's not much development here," Tribal Councilman Rich Kirn said, "but we're sure this is one of them."

With the agreement, oil and gas taxes on the reservation will be the same as taxes nearby."

Get the Story:
State-tribal agreement could transform reservation (The Great Falls Tribune 3/27)

Related Stories:
Fort Peck Tribes sign oil and gas tax agreement (3/26)