Past Conference

The High Cost of Fuel: What's Down the Road for Montanans?

October 1 & 2, 2008 (12:00pm)
Petroleum Club, Crowne Plaza, Billings

Registration for this conference is now closed. Please call 406-994-0336 for more information.

No one in Big Sky Country is unaware of the high cost of fuel:  the price of gas, diesel, and blended fuels throughout our state has skyrocketed in a very short period of time.  In a large rural state such as ours, that price hike has translated into trouble for all of us, whether we are filling our tanks, considering travel for business or pleasure, running a business or purchasing goods and groceries.

In cooperation with the Montana Department of Transportation and the Western Transportation Institute at MSU, the Wheeler Center has planned a statewide forum to discuss  a number of important policy issues in relation to the high price of fuel, economic impacts and transportation policy.  As always, this conference will be open to the public. Several questions will be taken up:


  1. How is the high price of fuel affecting our major transportation providers?  How are they adapting? What are the likely outcomes given the unlikely reduction in fuel prices going forward?

  2. What is the role of our local, state and federal planners in determining future actions and infrastructure?  What kinds of transportation models can and should we be considering in our long range planning?  How do we integrate our local, state and regional transportation planning efforts to benefit Montanans?

  3. Where should we be spending our infrastructure dollars?  On roads?  Rails?  Air service?  Which fuels are being considered and what infrastructure might we need to satisfy demand? Who decides?

  4. If fuel prices continue to creep up, and the demand for gas at the pump goes down, how will we fund current and future transportation needs with reduced tax revenues at both the state and national levels? Should new taxes be considered?

  5. What will be the short and long-term outcomes of continued high fuel prices on Montana’s economy? What sectors will suffer most?  On the other hand, who might benefit?

  6. How is transportation planning linked to community planning and design?

  7. Who has responsibility for dealing with these problems?  The public sector?  Private sector? 
  8. Those who generate the most traffic, like Universities, governments, large businesses, healthcare complexes?
  9. How much can innovation do to solve our transportation issues?  What can be tried?


This statewide conference is expected to give planners, policy makers and the public a broad sense of the problems, and generate new thoughts and ideas to support solutions.

The forum is designed for all those in or with a tie to the  transportation sector (both public and private), government planners at all levels,  transportation economists,  legislators, business owners, ranchers and farmers, tourism -dependent businesses, anyone who relies  on moving goods through the state, and those with an interest in learning more about and helping solve Montana's transportation problems.  Please join us!

Past Events

Friends of The Center
“Senator Wheeler knew full well that good policy doesn't come from one person. Doing what's right for Montana-and America-comes from sharing ideas and information, hearing from all sides, and working together. The Wheeler Center honors that vision. It's a valuable resource for our state.”

-- Montana's Senior Senator Jon Tester
Need more information? wheelercenter@montana.edu