by William Skink
Montana Democrats just don’t want to quit coal. 30 years ago Democrat Governor Ted Schwinden slashed the severance tax to make Montana coal more competitive with Wyoming. More recently, Governor Schweitzer, the coal cowboy, touted the pipe-dream of clean coal. And now, facing new rules over emissions, Governor Bullock is hemming and hawing about his disappointment, demanding the Obama administration fund research to make coal clean so Montana can keep peddling this dirty energy supply for decades:
Bullock also called upon the Obama administration to immediately dedicate more funding to low-carbon coal research, saying: “If we are to address climate change, we need to do so in a common sense way. There is no practical path forward that doesn’t rely on coal for the next several decades and we need to invest now in ways to make coal generation cleaner.”
Earlier this month, Pete Talbot pointed out how the Governor is stacking his “citizen council”, tasked with reducing emissions to comply with the EPA, with industry loyalists:
Governor Steve Bullock announced his picks for the citizen council that will draft an energy emissions plan. Montana must cut its carbon emissions by 47 percent by 2030 to meet U.S. Environmental Protection Agency rules. A plan for doing so needs to be submitted to the EPA by midsummer.
As MTN’s Mike Dennison notes, the council isn’t lacking in members from the energy industry. I would have liked to have seen more people from environmental groups and the climate sciences (Nobel Peace Prize recipient and UM Professor Steve Running?) but as usual, the administration didn’t consult me. I wish the council the best of luck in coming to a solution.
I don’t know, does this count as criticism? You would think that before an election would be an ideal time to try and pressure a leader of your political party to actually lead the state away from destructive energy policies. Or maybe winning the election is more important than standing up for one’s values.
George Ochenski offers some better criticism of Bullock as he joins forces with Republicans to sue the Federal government:
One of the big stories from last week was Arch Coal, one of the nation’s largest coal producers, following a handful of other large coal companies into bankruptcy. Then China, one of the primary markets for export coal, announced it would no longer issue new coal mining permits. On Friday Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said her agency is halting new coal leases on federal lands until it conducts a comprehensive review of fees on mining and coal’s impact on the environment. Toss in a precipitous drop in oil prices to less than $30 a barrel and it appears King Coal isn’t just sick, it’s dang near dead.
What’s strange, especially here in Montana, is the reaction of our politicians from both parties to what seems the inescapable conclusion that coal’s big day on the energy stage is over. Instead, faced with upcoming moves by both the Oregon and Washington state legislatures to reduce reliance on coal-fired energy, politicians from Gov. Steve Bullock on down are digging in their heels in a futile attempt to derail the inevitable shutdown of Colstrip’s oldest and dirtiest power plants.
Point in case is the industry-dominated committee Bullock appointed to push back against the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan to cut carbon dioxide emissions. Why any “leader” in the era of global climate change and its increasingly disastrous consequences would want to defend coal energy is a good question. But that’s just what Montana’s politicians are doing.
Republican Attorney General Tim Fox has tossed his hat – and taxpayer-funded lawyers – into the fray by joining 27 other states in a lawsuit against the Clean Power Plan. Bullock has previously indicated support for Fox’s intervention on behalf of coal while saying Montana cannot let the federal government dictate what happens in Montana. Really? What’s next, secession?
Yeah Bullock, don’t let the federal government dictate what happens in Montana. If you need some allies, I hear there’s some dudes in Oregon who feel the same away about the Feds.