Five High-Impact Actions at the Montana Legislature: Week of March 6th

We know your time is valuable, but we need your help to support clean energy, clean water, and clean air. Below is quick and easy list of five high-impact actions you can take this week that will help fight for our right to a clean and healthful environment. We’ve incorporated your suggestions from previous alerts and tried to make it as easy as possible for you to help. Pick one or do all five. However you decide to help is much appreciated.

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.

  • Senate Natural Resources Committee
  • House Energy, Technology, and Federal Relations Committee
  • House Natural Resources Committee
Senator Tom Richmond

Senator Tom Richmond

1. Contact the Senate Natural Resources Committee and ask it to protect clean water and our climate from coal mine development by opposing SB 235.

SB 235 (Sen. Tom Richmond, R-Billings) would allow the Montana Land Board to extend the date for coal leases beyond their traditional 10-year term if the Board finds that it would be in the “best interest of the state.” The bill could result in a lease renewal for the Otter Creek coal tracts if Arch Coal fails to develop the mine at the end of its current 10-year lease. This also allows the State to forego revenue from a new lease. This bill has a hearing in the Senate Natural Resources Committee on Wed., March 8th.

2. Contact the House Energy, Technology, and Federal Relations Committee and ask it to protect clean energy development by opposing SB 78.

SB 78 (Sen. Keith Regier, R-Kalispell) attacks solar energy development in Montana by mandating changes to rules set by Montana Public Service Commission (PSC) experts. It would mandate net metering credits be valued at “avoided cost,” a specific valuation method that would prevent the PSC from using its expertise to set rates. It discriminates against net metering customers by adding a new, separate fee ostensibly to cover utility infrastructure costs. These customers already pay this cost. Net metering customers would pay twice for infrastructure. This bill has a hearing in the House Energy, Technology, and Federal Relations Committee on Wed., March 8th.

Senator Chas Vincent

Senator Chas Vincent

3. Contact the House Natural Resources Committee and ask it to protect Montana’s clean water by voting against SB 48.

SB 48 (Sen. Chas Vincent, R-Libby) would require the Montana Department of Environmental Quality to assume the responsibilities of the 404 permitting program, which is currently administered by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. This program protects our rivers, streams, and wetlands by requiring that any person who proposes to impact “Waters of the United States” must apply for a 404 permit. Unfortunately, the Montana DEQ does not have adequate resources to effectively implement the program. This bill will also require Montana to assume an additional $1.6 million in costs associated with administering the program. This bill has a hearing in the House Natural Resources Committee on Fri., March 10th.

4. Contact the House Natural Resources Committee and ask it to vote against SB 248, a bill that would reduce water quantity protections for our rivers and streams from unregulated development.

SB 248 (Sen. Mark Blasdel, R-Kalispell) would allow anyone using the family transfer exemption in the subdivision and platting act to also be guaranteed an exemption from obtaining a water right for a well that pumps up to 35 gallons per minute.  This would eliminate any checks on the location of the new well and whether it will have any influence on neighboring water wells or sewage. The family transfer exemption is already a big exemption in the subdivision law, and this bill would compound the problem. This bill has a hearing in the House Natural Resources Committee on Wed., March 8th.

5. Contact the Senate Natural Resources Committee and ask it to protect Montana’s water from unregulated water bottling development by supporting SB 215.

SB 215 (Sen. Bob Keenan, R-Bigfork) would require large-scale water bottling plants that extract over 100 acre-feet of groundwater each year to receive a permit from the Montana Department of Environmental Quality under the Major Facility Siting Act. The bill would require DEQ to review, analyze, and determine if the impacts of a very large water bottling facility could or should be mitigated or avoided and to allow the public an opportunity to participate in the process. This bill has a hearing in the Senate Natural Resources Committee on Wed., March 8th.

P.S. Don’t forget to RSVP for our last Lobby Day in Helena on March 17th.

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