NBC Montana: Tester talks infrastructure, wildfires, housing, childcare, & XL pipeline

U.S. Senator Jon Tester is in Missoula on Thursday to update the public on the bipartisan infrastructure negotiations in Washington D.C.

City, airport and construction leaders will join him.

He spoke with Heidi Meili live Thursday morning on infrastructure and other topics.

The senator says he’s led weeks of bipartisan negotiations on a deal to create good paying jobs and to invest in Montana’s roads, bridges, broadband, water and more.

“It’s a serious investment in infrastructure for the nation and a serious investment for Montana too, roads and bridges and water infrastructure and broadband. It’s a good bill,” Tester said.

Tester said the bill doesn’t tackle some issues that are important to Montanans including housing, childcare, and care for veterans.

Tester also addressed Montana’s drought conditions and concerns about wildfire staffing shortages.

“We’re going to have, unfortunately, a big fire season this year, because it’s just so dry out there,” Tester said.

Tester said that he supports managing forest to help prevent fires.

As drought grips the eastern parts of the state and much of the state, Tester said officials are working to allow more grazing on federally owned lands to provide relief to farmers.

“It’s worse if you go east of where I live, and we’ve got probably one of the worst crops I’ll ever cut in 44 years just because we haven’t had moisture, and if you don’t have moisture you can be the best farmer in the world, it still doesn’t work out,” Tester said.

Tester also spoke on his support for the Keystone XL pipeline, which was cancelled after the Biden administration blocked permits earlier this year. He also noted his support for developing alternatives to carbon-based fuels in response to climate change.