Has Billings Mayor Bill Cole Forgotten 1000 Workers in Yellowstone County?

By Alan Olson, Montana Petroleum Association

It was reported recently in the Billings Gazette that Mayor Cole was enthusiastically doing the obligatory political ribbon cutting thing to celebrate a new business venture in Billings. The new venture is in the business of selling electricity to fuel electric vehicles (EVs). This new business venture is on city owned property and paid for with public dollars. While I am not ideologically opposed to EVs, – I believe everyone has a market choice – but this ceremony was a little out of the ordinary. 

The Mayor definitely put his own spin on things. Rather than simply cutting a ribbon for this new public venture, Mayor Cole cut a gasoline hose with an electric saw while telling the crowd; “Today marks the beginning of a new era.”  “A small step forward on what I’m sure is going to be a long journey of electrifying personal transportation … in Montana and, yes, even in Billings.”

The Big Sky Business Journal’s Hot Sheet remarked Mayor Cole’s “ribbon cutting” was more a demonstration of “cutting of ties to carbon-based fuels, rather than a ribbon cutting.”

I hope Mayor Cole recognizes the contributions the three Yellowstone County refineries add to the Billings economy and the hard-working people that keep those refineries operating to supply fuel to his other constituents. I hope Mayor Cole recognizes that when those ties to carbon-based fuels are gone so will the jobs at the refineries be gone. Has Billings Mayor Bill Cole forgotten those 1000 workers in Yellowstone County? Surely, with the Biden Administration announcing plans to source metals from abroad, Mayor Cole does not believe refinery workers will find new employment in the EV business – does he?


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