Below is quick and easy list of high-impact actions you can take this week that will help fight for our right to a clean and healthful environment. Pick one or do all five. However you decide to help will make a difference.
You can leave a message for individual legislators, as well as House and Senate Committee members, by calling legislative services at (406) 444-4800 from 7:30 A.M. to 5:00 PM. You can also email individual legislators by visiting our 2017 Legislators Contact Page and entire committees by using the pop-up links below for the select committees.
1. Protect the Smith River and other Montana rivers and streams from mine pollution.
HB 593 (Rep. Nate McConnell, D-Missoula) would require mines proposed in sulfide ore bodies post a bond that is 50% greater than the amount normally required. Sulphide ore bodies are the precursor to acid mine drainage, a chemical process that has been the death sentence for several of Montana’s rivers and streams. This bill would also require mining operations conduct independent audits to ensure they have an adequate bond and are complying with all environmental laws.
2. Ensure a just transition for Colstrip while allowing for future clean energy replacement.
While there are about a dozen bills that deal with the closure of Colstrip units 1 & 2, there is one bill that rises to the top in terms of a lousy idea. SB 338 (Sen. Duane Ankney, R-Colstrip) is a punitive bill that would scare away investments in large-scale clean energy development in Montana. The bill would force the owners of Colstrip to pay outlandish sums to the community of Colstrip. Yet, the bill fails to guarantee cleanup of the extensive contamination at Colstrip, fails to provide security for pensions of non-union plant workers, and fails to require the owners to provide clean water to the town. Out-of-state utilities are the ones who would buy wind energy in Montana, but this bill would discourage those investments. This bill puts a giant “closed for business” sign on the state and fails to protect workers and the environment. This bill would create immeasurable uncertainty for utilities and would almost certainly cause out-of-state utilities to invest in clean energy from anywhere but Montana.
Please contact Senate Energy Committee members and ask them to say NO to bills that put a “closed to clean energy business” sign on Montana.
3. Protect Montana’s water by asking the Senate Natural Resources Committee to oppose HB 339.
HB 339 (Rep. Carl Glimm, R-Kila) would functionally overturn last year’s Montana Supreme Court decision protecting the state’s water resources and property rights from sprawl. The bill would re-open the exempt well loophole that the Supreme Court wisely closed last year, and give developers the right to take the water before those who are legally entitled to use that water first.
It’s bad policy based on bad science and would deplete streamflows, undermine senior water rights, increase sprawl, and spark conflict among water users. It’s irresponsible, putting development before water security and our prized fisheries. It’s unfair, letting subdivisions cut in line to grab water before everyone else – including those with senior rights. It’s bad science, imposing arbitrary guidelines for water use in a state with complex hydrology and already over-allocated streams.
Please contact the Senate Natural Resources Committee and ask them to oppose HB 339 and protect Montana’s water.
4. Protect Clean Energy Development in Montana by Contacting Governor Steve Bullock.
SB 32 (Sen. Keith Regier, R-Kalispell) would prevent jobs and new clean energy in Montana by repealing the Community Renewable Energy Projects (CREPs) provision of the Renewable Energy Standard. These projects are 25 megawatts or less in size and have majority local ownership. Montana Dakota Utilities met its requirement years ago, but NorthWestern Energy is only partially compliant. Passage of this bill would mean losing jobs, tax revenue, and clean energy that these projects would otherwise create. It has passed the House and Senate and is waiting on the governor’s action.
Call Governor Bullock at (406) 444-3111 or contact the Governor with the link below and ask him to please veto SB 32.
5. Protect solar energy incentives by contacting the House Energy Committee.
SB 154 (Sen. Mike Lang, R-Malta) would harm solar jobs and investments in Montana by eliminating modest incentives for net metered clean energy systems. Montana’s solar industry is on the cusp of explosive growth that would create new, good paying jobs across the state. Instead of seeking to help these new jobs and businesses grow, this bill bluntly targets only net metering incentives for elimination.
Please contact the House Energy Committee and ask them to oppose SB 154.
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