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Alan Olson: Biden EV mandates not practical for Montana

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Alan Olson: Biden EV mandates not practical for Montana


Life in Montana takes energy.

Companies and individuals across the state have worked tirelessly over the years to ensure Montanans have the power to go about their lives in the way they want. It is part of what makes Montana the Last Best Place.

However, the Biden-Harris administration’s new EPA mandate threatens that freedom. Under the EPA’s final rule, two-thirds of vehicles sold by U.S. automakers need to be battery-powered or plug-in hybrid by 2032. Fundamentally — Montanans, and the rest of the United States, will eventually be forced to purchase an electric vehicle (EV) for their family car — no matter how expensive it is.

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If Montana is to preserve a huge part of its residents’ way of life and prevent the stretching of some communities’ shallow pockets, we need all our policymakers in DC to step up to the plate and oppose this electric vehicle mandate.

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As Executive Director of the Montana Petroleum Association, I have seen firsthand how hard our member companies work to provide reliable energy sources to the people of Montana. If the EPA’s mandate takes root, our member companies’ workers will suffer, as oil and gas jobs become fewer and further between.

It will also drastically increase consumer costs as a result of the mandated shifts to expensive and inefficient EV’s, which at this point simply do not support the hauling and long-distance needs of members of the oil and gas industry, or everyday Montana consumers.

Our member companies are actively addressing sustainability and climate issues, recognizing the importance of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and operating with the aim of providing Montanans with critical resources while respecting the importance of our environment — but the bottom line is that Montanans — and Americans — still rely heavily on gas- and diesel-powered vehicles, and shouldn’t be expected to scrimp in other essential areas, like groceries, just to eventually be able to afford an EV.

Kelley Blue Book reports that according to data from Cox Automotive, “the average transaction price for electric cars was $53,469 in July 2023, vs. gas-powered vehicles at $48,334.” The exponentially higher cost of an EV in addition to Montana’s rising cost of living is not insignificant. Car insurance for EVs is also costlier than gas powered vehicles, “on average, insurance for an electric car is $44 per month more expensive.” How can the government implement policies that impact Americans’ job availability and then double down by providing essentially one, expensive option for a cornerstone of their daily lives?

In addition to the financial strain this forced electric transition will have on consumers, it also heightens serious, existing concerns for Montana’s electric grid. Electrification of Montana vehicles will cause an inevitable increase in demand on our state’s limited grid capacity.

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I commend Sen. Steve Daines’ and Attorney General Knudsen’s efforts to oppose this mandate, but unfortunately, it may not be enough.

We need Sen. Tester and all of our office holders to stand against this mandate from Washington, D.C. because failing to do so puts Montana consumers, and our energy security, in jeopardy.

Alan Olson is the Executive Director of the Montana Petroleum Association

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Montana Tucker features freed hostages’ story in skincare ad – I24NEWS

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Montana Tucker features freed hostages’ story in skincare ad – I24NEWS


Influencer Montana Tucker, known for her significant social media following, recently highlighted the story of a freed Israeli hostage in a skincare promotion, eliciting mixed responses from her audience. 

Since October 7, Tucker has utilized her platform to advocate for Israel, sharing content from communities impacted by Hamas attacks and historical sites like Auschwitz.

Tucker, who has over 3 million Instagram followers and 9 million on TikTok, has consistently posted about the ongoing conflict, including speeches at rallies and interviews at protests. At the Grammys in February, she wore a yellow ribbon with the words “Bring them home” to raise awareness for Israeli hostages.

However, her latest advocacy effort has sparked controversy. In a video promoting an Israeli skincare brand, Tucker features Raz Ben Ami, who was abducted with her husband during a Hamas attack. While many praised Tucker for raising awareness, others criticized her for seemingly using a traumatized family’s story to promote a product.

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Montana Tucker’s instagram skin care ad featuring Israeli captive, Raz Ben AmiMontanatucker/Instagram

“Raz and Ohad have three beautiful daughters who did everything they can to bring back their dad and take care of their mom,” Tucker wrote in the caption. She emphasized that the featured skincare brand, FRE, was Raz’s favorite.

The video showcases Ben Ami sharing her experience of captivity and expressing hope for her husband’s return. 

Despite the heartfelt narrative, the integration of a product promotion led to divided opinions. Some followers appreciated Tucker’s ongoing efforts, while others viewed the ad as exploitative.



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Influencer Montana Tucker features freed Israeli hostage in a skincare promo

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Influencer Montana Tucker features freed Israeli hostage in a skincare promo


Since Oct. 7, Montana Tucker has encapsulated the growing role of social media influencers in the sprawling effort to advocate for Israel. 

Tucker, who has more than 3 million followers on Instagram (in addition to 9 million on TikTok), has uploaded videos and photos from the communities devastated by Hamas’ attack and from Auschwitz. She’s posted speeches at rallies and tried to interview people at campus protests. At the Grammys in February, she wore a large yellow ribbon over her dress displaying the words “Bring them home.”

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But her latest advocacy effort for Israeli hostages is dividing her pro-Israel fans — because in addition to featuring the harrowing story of a woman who was taken captive with her husband, the video also promotes a skincare product. 

“Raz and Ohad have 3 beautiful daughters who did/do everything they can to bring back their dad/ remaining hostages, and take care of their mom,” Tucker wrote in the caption to the video, uploaded on Thursday. “@freskincare is not only an incredible, clean, and Israeli skincare brand, but it is Raz’s favorite.”

The video — and response to it — showcase the thorny questions raised by the melding of influencer culture and pro-Israel advocacy amid a brutal war and hostage crisis. Many of Tucker’s followers praised the video and her months of efforts to raise awareness of the captives’ plight, as well as a gesture of goodwill by the skincare brand. Some others lambasted her for, in their view, using a traumatized family’s story as an opportunity to promote a beauty regimen.

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Montana Tucker and freed hostages. (credit: Michelle Tucker)

“This is just vile and unconscionable,” human rights lawyer and Israel advocate Arsen Ostrovsky wrote on X. “How dare you @montanatucker come here to Israel to profit of the grief and massacre of our people. Have you no shame?”

Another user who responded to Ostrovsky’s post saw it differently. “She has done so much for our cause in social media since the war started, and because she did something for someone in partnership with a brand, your jumping down her throat,” he wrote. “Pick a fight with the correct people, this isn’t one of them!”

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The video starts like many of the other hostage testimonies that have emerged since Oct. 7, when Hamas terrorists took some 250 Israelis captive and brought them to Gaza. Raz Ben Ami, 57, sitting on a couch with her three daughters, recalls hiding in a bomb shelter during Hamas’ attack, and discusses her and her husband Ohad’s abduction from Kibbutz Be’eri.

The freed hostages who appear in the advertisement

Ben Ami was released during a ceasefire in late November. Her husband remains in captivity. 

“We miss him very much,” Ben Ami, who is wearing a shirt calling for Ohad’s release, says in the video. “We’re working very hard to get him back. We hope he’s still OK.”

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The video then pans to Mickael Bensadoun, CEO of the Israeli skincare brand Fré, who is sitting next to Tucker. “We are praying for the release of all hostages,” Bensadoun says. “This is the least we can do.”

Bensadoun goes on to explain that while Raz was in captivity, her daughter Yulie, 27, had reached out to the company, “saying that she would love her mother to get some Fré products when she’s back. Our head of customer support showed me this message. I think I wanted to give all Fré to you.”

Tucker responds, “There are a million skin care brands, but I think what makes a brand so special is when there is a personal story.” Later, she hugs Ben Ami and says, “You are amazing, really, you inspire me so much.”

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At the end of the video, Tucker asks for permission to rub some cream from the brand on Ben Ami’s face. Tucker reassures her that her hands are clean. Ben Ami responds, with a laugh, “I’ve been in Gaza.”

The video concludes with the group shouting, in unison, “We love Fré!”

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The post has garnered many positive reactions praising Tucker for bringing attention to the atrocities of Oct. 7 and the plight of the hostages.

“@montanatucker Do you even know how much this means to every Jew in the world?,” one user wrote on Instagram. “The fact that you’re getting their stories out there for ALL to hear and see ! Thank you so much for EVERYTHING you’re doing for your community!”

Tucker shared the video during a week when Israel Defense Forces soldiers have recovered hostages’ bodies from the city of Rafah. The same day Tucker’s video went up, the families of five young women hostages released a video showing their capture by Hamas, sparking heightened pressure on the Israeli government to negotiate their release.

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In light of the dire news, some people objected to Tucker featuring hostages in a video promoting beauty products.

“After you thought you’ve seen it all, watch this video and see how some people and the brands they’re pushing apparently have no problem capitalizing on the backs of people who have been to hell and back,” Yaakov Katz, the former editor in chief of the Jerusalem Post, wrote on X. 

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In response to an inquiry from the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, a representative for Tucker said that Ben Ami and Tucker had met at a recent rally for the hostages’ release before meeting in the temporary housing where the Ben Ami family has been living following the destruction of their home on Oct. 7.  

“She wanted her story told, her husband’s story, told by Montana,” said the representative, who gave her name as Michelle. “She always goes to their houses.”

The representative added that the idea for the video came from Fré and that Tucker was not paid to go to the house.

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“It was totally a mitzvah thing,” she said. “She will always be there for the hostages until everyone’s home.”

Fré, which did not respond to JTA’s request for comment, is not the only company to tell stories about the hostages with its products. Wines on the Vine, an online wine store and project of the nonprofit Israel Innovation Fund, has released a line of wines featuring the faces and short biographies of the remaining hostages called “Wines of Hope.” A third of the proceeds will be donated to the Hostages and Missing Families Forum advocacy group, according to the website.

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“Wines of Hope tells the story of the 257 hostages who were taken captive by Hamas terrorists on October 7, 2023, and specifically the 128 people who remain there until today,” the website says. “With every sip we take, we drink this wine as a symbol of hope and a yearning for their return, until the day we can drink together with them, fully rejoicing and celebrating true freedom.”





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Zinke seeks $50 million for infrastructure projects in western Montana

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Zinke seeks $50 million for infrastructure projects in western Montana


U.S. Rep. Ryan Zinke asked the House Appropriations Committee on Friday to approve nearly $50 million for 15 infrastructure projects in western Montana, including one in Flathead County, one in Lake County, and two in Lincoln County.

The goal of the projects, according to Zinke’s office, is to support transportation and infrastructure, water systems and law enforcement equipment. The projects extend to 10 counties. 

“Rural Montana’s infrastructure and public service needs are different than those of Miami or Phoenix, and taking advantage of my position on the Appropriations Committee allows me to make sure our tax dollars are spent on projects that support our taxpayers,” said Zinke in a statement. 

Zinke, a Republican, is asking for $1,936,170 to add or replace guardrails on North Fork Road in Flathead County. Zinke’s office described the road as providing crucial access to year-round recreational activities and timber industry operations as well as to Glacier National Park. The road’s existing guardrail has surpassed its service life, according to Zinke’s office. 

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The project, if approved, would update 3.71 miles of roadway. 

In Lake County, the congressman is requesting $1,604,500 for the creation of a new invasive species inspection station in place of a current station in Ravalli. The existing station, under the management of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, is the only station to operate 24 hours, 7 days a week during boating season, and yet lacks permanent infrastructure and weather protection, according to Zinke. 

Officials in Lincoln County are hoping to expand and update the Troy Airport, with $820,319 requested to repair the runway. Zinke also requested $1,500,000 to turn the Troy branch of the Lincoln County Library into the Troy Library and Opportunity Center, with facility upgrades. 

Lake and Lincoln Counties also were two of five counties awarded money for enhancing local law enforcement. The first grouped request, including Beaverhead, Lake, Lincoln, Mineral and Sanders counties, asks for just over $2 million to promote equipment continuity, including patrol vehicles, body scanners, radios and vests. 

The second portion, totalling $322,000, would give law enforcement capabilities to those same five counties, if awarded.

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The requests were made through the U.S. House of Representatives Community Funding requests, which allows Congress to direct appropriations from specific grant accounts to eligible projects. Projects must be approved by the House Appropriations Committee, the full House of Representatives and be included in the joint funding package signed by the president. 

Reporter Kate Heston can be reached at kheston@dailyinterlake.com or 758-4459.



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