The Billings Gazette: Guest opinion: Saving EAS right for Montana

If you’ve lived in Montana for any period of time, you easily understand the key that transportation plays in developing our economy. Whether it’s delivering goods or moving people, a reliable transportation infrastructure is a foundational component to an economy that keeps our state moving literally, whether you live in rural Montana or one of our larger communities.

´╗┐Unfortunately, once again, urban voices in the U.S. Congress attempted to defund an important component of rural America’s — and Montana’s — transportation infrastructure. The federal Essential Air Service program, which provides incentives for airlines to continue to serve rural areas throughout the United States, was recently under attack. EAS, for more than 30 years, has assured that rural America and its residents have access to commercial air service and that air transportation is not just a luxury for those who live in or near a big city. For three decades, under both Republican and Democratic administrations, and with bipartisan congressional support, EAS has leveled the playing field in terms of assuring that rural areas and smaller communities have equal access to commercial air service, which is a critical component in business development and economic diversification.

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