Category Archives: Politics and History

Lessons from other states: Nevada and Arizona

There are two nearly identical November 6 ballot measures in Arizona and Nevada, where voters will separately decide whether to require utilities to acquire at least half of their electricity from renewable sources by 2030.

Both measures would raise the “Renewable Portfolio Standard” (RPS) to 50% by 2030. An RPS requires electric utilities to ensure that a specified percentage of electricity they sell comes from renewable energy, which is usually tracked through a credit system. That allows for certain types of energy, such as electricity produced through rooftop solar systems, to have a “credit multiplier” effect and count more towards meeting the required minimum production standard.

To find out more about these initiatives and to find out what Montana is doing in this regard, click the link. Continue reading

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Lessons from other states: Washington carbon fee initiative

Washington has been trying to pass a carbon tax for the last decade without success. But this year, as unhappiness with Trump’s anti-environment agenda grows, it looks like they may succeed.

Initiative 1631 is on the November ballot. It would impose a starting fee of $15 per ton on carbon emissions, starting in 2020, with 70 percent of the money raised invested in clean energy. If it passes, Washington will make history, becoming not only the first state in the union to adopt a carbon tax, but also the first government anywhere to do so by ballot referendum. Continue reading

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November ballot measures in other states

Yesterday we looked at battle between the oil and gas industry and communities in Colorado. Today we’ll look at other fracking-related ballot measures in other states. Continue reading

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Lessons from other states: Colorado

Sometimes it’s worth checking in on other Western states to see what trends may eventually bring political change to Montana. Today we’ll look at Colorado, where conflict over oil and gas development is front and center on the November ballot.

On November 6, a long-simmering conflict between the oil and gas industry and community advocates will reach a head as voters will decide on two opposing oil and gas measures, Proposition 112 and Amendment 74. Both could have major conflicting implications on future oil and gas development in the state.

To read more, click the link.

Continue reading

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How the Trump Administration is quietly stripping away environmental protections

While Donald Trump’s tweets make the cable news channels salivate on a daily basis, the outrage provides cover for the real work that the Administration is doing to strip away important environmental protections.

Make no mistake about it — Trump and company have done everything they can to roll back environmental protections that have been established over many decades. This has been done primarily through rulemaking and other administrative procedures, which are generally ignored by cable news but can have a huge impact. Continue reading

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A limerick for EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt has a problem. Seems he has to fly first class out of security concerns because people keep coming up to him in airports and yelling obscenities at him. Out of concern for his plight, I offer a limerick of support. Continue reading

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Action Alert: Prevent the Montana Senate from taking landowner rights

A bill currently being considered in the Montana State Senate significantly reduces landowner rights in protecting property from damage from oil drilling on or near occupied buildings. SB93, currently before the Senate Energy and Telecommunications Committee, would reduce notification requirements approved last year by the Montana Board of Oil and Gas Conservation (BOGC). Those regulations require oil and gas operators to notify owners of “occupied structures” within a quarter mile of a well before drilling.

The BOGC rule, passed last December, was the result of a 20-month process involving Montana environmental groups, with input from the Montana Petroleum Association. The process grew out of the Legislature’s rejection in the 2015 session of SB177, which would have established a 1000 foot minimum buffer zone, or setback, between wellheads and a home, water well, or surface water. The bill did not make it out of committee.

Following the failure of the bill, Northern Plains Resource Council and others petitioned the BOGC to establish minimum setbacks to protect landowners. After 20 months of hearings, testimony by landowners, and committee meetings, the BOGC passed its new rule last December. The rule requires notification in advance of drilling to any landowner within a quarter mile of a wellhead.

To find out what you can do to keep this bill from passing, follow the link. Continue reading

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Tell Senator Tester what you think about Trump’s cabinet nominees

Senator Jon Tester has launched a portal on his web site to gather opinions from Montanans about President-elect Trump’s appointees.

It is important for you to speak up. Tester will be a minority voice in the Senate, and he needs to understand how Montanans feel about the need to block appointees who represent the interests of Big Oil, who deny climate change, and who seek alliances with our enemies.

Since we focus on energy and climate change on this site, these are the appointees we are most concerned about (with link to Tester portal). Continue reading

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Trump’s EPA pick makes his intentions on climate change clear

President Elect Trump has selected Oklahoma attorney general Scott Pruitt to head the Environmental Protection Agency. Pruitt is a close ally of the fossil fuel industry who has been a leader of efforts to block President Obama’s climate change rules.

Pruitt has put himself at the forefront of an alliance among state attorneys general, including Montana’s Tim Fox, who are working with energy companies and other corporate interests, which are in turn contributing large amounts of money for their political campaigns.

Don’t believe it when Trump tells reporters he has an “open mind” about climate change. Actions speak louder than words.

To find out more about Pruitt’s intentions, click the link. Continue reading

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Thoughts on environmental activism in a Trump presidency

Yesterday I looked at the potential environmental policy direction of the Trump Administration. Today I offer some additional thoughts about what this might mean for political action. Republicans own climate change Conservative Republicans now own climate change, with all its consequences.  Over … Continue reading

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