Montana Environmental Information Center

Clean and healthful. It's your right, our mission.

HELP Stop the Last West Coast Coal Terminal

Contact the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

This petition is now closed.

End date: Nov 30, 2016

Signatures collected: 446

446 signatures

Let’s get this over the finish line. Exporting coal from Montana was a bad idea from day one. Increased coal mining and export would have poisoned our air, fouled our water, and disrupted our communities. Now we’re years into the fight and the smell of victory—not of dirty coal trains—is in the air. But we’re not there yet.

There is only one coal port on the coast left standing. You know the drill: please submit your comment today to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and ask them to select the “no action” alternative in the Millennium Bulk Terminals Draft Environmental Impact Statement.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers just released their draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the proposed coal export terminal. Speaking up during the comment period is critical. With your help, we can block the last remaining coal export terminal in the Pacific Northwest.

Last spring, the Washington Department of Ecology and Cowlitz County issued their draft EIS for the coal port and, with your help, the coalition of opponents broke records—filing over 250,000 comments. Now the Army Corp of Engineers is considering the project, and we all need to speak up with a collective voice!

Why should it be denied? Digging and burning coal increases climate change, harms water quality, and fouls the air. Coal trains running through Montana towns endangers the health and safety of our communities. Asian markets are just starting to move toward cleaner energy. They don’t need dirty Montana coal. The time to say NO is NOW!

Now is your chance to live up to Montana’s reputation of standing up for our clean water and clean air. Submit your comment today!

Helenans: Help Protect the Smith River

Contact Helena Commissioners

This petition is now closed.

End date: Oct 17, 2016

Signatures collected: 173

173 signatures

Last week Helena City Commissioner Rob Farris-Olsen introduced a resolution at the Helena City Commission that expresses concerns over the proposed Smith River Mine. The resolution requests that no mining activity be permitted unless and until the applicant ­– Tintina Resources – can demonstrate with absolute certainty that the proposal will not harm this extraordinary river. The Commission will vote on this resolution on Monday, October 17th. Please take 1 minute and ask the Helena City Commission to support the resolution.

The Smith River is an important part of Helena’s recreation and tourist economy. In fact, a study conducted on the Smith River’s economic impact to southwestern Montana’s recreation economy estimated that it generates close to $10 million in economic activity, close to $3 million in salaries and wages, and approximately $750,000 in state and local tax revenues. The resolution notes that several Helena area citizens and business are dependent upon the Smith River, in part, for their income. Year after year Helenans from all walks of life enjoy the river. In 2016 alone, approximately 966 residents in the city of Helena applied for a permit to float the Smith, and approximately 100 were successful.

A small Canadian company, Tintina Resources, has partnered with an Australian mining firm and applied for a permit to develop a large copper mine directly adjacent to and underneath Sheep Creek, at the headwaters of the Smith River. The proposed mine is of particular concern because the mine must disturb sulfide minerals, which when exposed to air and water, can form sulfuric acid in a process known as acid mine drainage. Acid mine drainage is highly toxic to fish and other aquatic life. Furthermore, groundwater pumping from mining activities could lower the water table, and create a “cone of depression” that extends to the Sheep Creek alluvium – posing a threat to adjacent stream flows. The Smith River, and Sheep Creek, already suffer from low flows during most years, putting pressure on downstream water users and preventing the fishery from reaching its potential.

Please take 1 minute and ask the Helena City Commission to make a statement on the importance of the Smith River to Helena’s economy and Montana’s conservation legacy.

Smith 2

Speak Up for a Clean Energy Economy for Montana

Contact Montana Legislators

This petition is now closed.

End date: Aug 26, 2016

Signatures collected: 257

257 signatures

The Montana Legislature is trying to craft legislation to punish and prevent power plant owners from moving beyond dirty fuels like coal to cleaner energy sources. Instead the legislature should be developing legislation that encourages development of Montana’s abundant clean energy resources such as wind, solar and energy efficiency.

Please ask the legislature to help the town of Colstrip and the state of Montana diversify our energy portfolio, encourage jobs in the clean energy sector, and create a more sustainable energy future for Colstrip and Montana.

Power from the Colstrip coal-fired power plant goes to West Coast markets that are demanding change. Coastal states are concerned about climate change. They are working to move beyond the coal-fired power they get from Montana. Some in the Montana legislature want to punish them for concerns about climate change and want to try to force them to continue purchasing dirty coal-fired power from Montana.

Montana has the second best wind resource in the U.S. As coastal states start deciding how to move beyond coal, Montana should be positioning itself to provide the clean energy these markets are demanding. The Montana legislature should stop wasting its time trying to force customers to buy a product they no longer want and instead design ways to provide the product these customers do want – clean energy.

Clean energy means jobs in Montana, tax revenue, and a cleaner environment. Tell the Montana legislature it’s time to move toward a new and lucrative energy future and to stop looking into the rear-view mirror. We either provide the clean energy electricity that customers demand or we get left behind.

For the sake of workers, the economy and the environment, it’s time to move toward a 21st century energy system and not try to hopelessly cling to last century’s technology.

Help Shine Light on Dangerous Fracking Chemicals!

Contact the Board

This petition is now closed.

End date: Sep 25, 2016

Signatures collected: 187

187 signatures

Montana has seen a dramatic increase in the use of hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” during oil and gas drilling. Fracking is a technology that injects millions of gallons of water, hundreds of tons of chemicals, and sand at high-pressure underground in order to increase oil and gas production. Shockingly, many of the chemicals used during the process are toxic or carcinogenic, and have been shown to contaminate surface and ground water near drilling sites. That’s why late last month MEIC and a coalition of environmental organizations, landowners, and pubic health professionals filed a petition at the Montana Board of Oil and Gas Conservation (Board) requesting that it improve the public’s access to fracking chemical information. This is going to be an uphill battle, and we need your help.

Other states, including Wyoming, have enacted common sense safeguards that are designed to inform the public about the specific chemicals that are used for fracking adjacent to (or directly below) homes, businesses, and water supplies. While Montana enacted a chemical disclosure law in 2011, it falls short in two major ways. First, Montana does not require that operators disclose the specific chemicals they intend to use before they initiate fracking activities. Pre-fracking disclosure is critical in order for adjacent landowners to conduct baseline water quality testing so that they can monitor any change in their water quality and fully assess the risks to their health and property. Second, a loophole in Montana’s law allows operators to withhold any chemical information they deem to be trade secrets, without any oversight from the Board to ensure only legitimate trade secret information is kept confidential. These glaring deficiencies need to be changed, and we need your help.

MEIC’s petition before the Board would address these problems if the Board moves forward by initiating a rulemaking process. Specifically, the petition asks the Board to adopt rules that require operators to disclose the chemical ingredients of their fracking fluids before fracking occurs, and to close the trade secrets loophole by ensuring that only legitimate trade secrets are exempt from disclosure. Our neighboring state of Wyoming – a conservative, pro-resource development state if ever there was one – already provides these protections for its residents and there is no reason why Montanans should have to settle for less. Please join us in asking the Board for these common-sense reforms.

Support Montana Solar!

Support Solar - Sign the Petition!

This petition is now closed.

End date: Aug 25, 2016

Signatures collected: 237

237 signatures

The calendar may still read 2016, but the 2017 Montana Legislature is already in motion – and your help is needed.

Net metering – the idea that Montana families and small businesses with rooftop solar systems should be fairly compensated for the benefits of selling extra electricity into the grid – will see a key debate at the next Energy and Telecommunications Interim Committee meeting on September 8th and 9th.

Show your support for more Montana solar – sign the petition on the right!

Net metering was one of the most heated energy issues last session. Since then the committee has continued the discussion and is now looking to make recommendations for where to start the net metering discussion next session. They need to hear from you that smart net metering rules will help keep Montana’s solar industry charging forward – bringing jobs, savings, and fewer climate emissions with it.

The deadline for submitting comments to the committee is coming up soon. Please show your support for Montana solar today by using the petition tool on this page.

The petition reads as follows:

Committee members,

Everyday more Montanans are choosing to generate their own clean energy with solar systems on their homes and businesses. We can keep this momentum going, but only if the rules of the game – net metering – support solar growth rather than stifle it.

Please consider the following principles in regards to any net metering recommendations:

1) Certainty should be created for the solar industry and consumers by taking a thorough look at the benefits and costs of net metering when production reaches 1% of utility sales.

2) The investments of existing customers should be protected by grandfathering in them under any future changes to the rate structure.

3) Larger capacity net metered systems should be allowed to be put onto the grid by raising the system size cap for tax-exempt customers.

Net metered solar energy development can create jobs, decrease energy costs, and clean up our electrical grid, but only with your support.

Thank you.

Tell OSM that Coal Mining Costs Our Climate

Contact OSM Now!

This petition is now closed.

End date: Jul 06, 2016

Signatures collected: 206

206 signatures

The Spring Creek mine is Montana’s largest open-pit coal strip mine, and one of the largest in the United States. From 2012-2015 the Spring Creek mine was responsible for over 119 million tons of greenhouse gases, equivalent to 25 million passenger vehicles driven on America’s roas for 1 year. Recently, a federal court told the U.S. Office of Surface Mining (OSM) to re-evaluate the environmental impacts of mining on another 1,111 acres at the mine. Unfortunately, OSM concluded that future mining would have no significant impact and that the mine expansion’s contribution “to greenhouse gas emissions … will be minor.” OSM’s conclusion lacks common sense and sound scientific judgment. Please contact OSM and request that it conduct an accurate analysis of the costs and impacts of greenhouse gas emissions associated with the Spring Creek Mine.

OSM’s analysis noted that mining at Spring Creek would be extended by approximately 5 years and result in 146 million tons of GHG emissions. That’s not insignificant. OSM is required to analyze the economic and social costs associated with an increase in carbon emissions – a.k.a. the “social cost of carbon.” The social cost of carbon is a detailed analytic tool developed by the federal government to determine what climate change really costs society.  However, instead of quantifying the cost of emissions from the mine, OSM “elected not to specifically quantify the social cost of carbon” due to “uncertainties.” OSM is wrong. The vast majority of scientists and credible scientific bodies are not uncertain: climate change will cost us enormously, and OSM failed in its moral and legal obligation to fully weigh the costs and benefits.

We need you to contact OSM today, and ask that it fully analyze the enormous costs that society faces from the mining and burning of coal which produces greenhouse gases. OSM noted that, for 2020 GHG emissions, the range in social cost of carbon is between $12 per ton and $123 per ton. This means that the mining and burning of the additional coal at Spring Creek could cost between $1.7 and $18 billon.  Nevertheless, OSM concluded that future mining would not have a significant impact and refused to quantify the major costs associated with burning Spring Creek coal.

Please take 1 minute, and contact OSM today! Tell it to fully quantify the costs associated with releasing an additional 146 million tons of greenhouse gases into our atmosphere.

A Blanket Permit to Pollute Without Public Input

Contact the DEQ

This petition is now closed.

End date: Jun 22, 2016

Signatures collected: 388

388 signatures

Comment Deadline: Wednesday, June 22nd 

In Montana, water is life. Unfortunately, the Montana Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) doesn’t seem to see it that way. DEQ is proposing to issue what is called a “general permit” that would allow all large domestic sewage treatment facilities to discharge wastewater into our aquifers:

  • without consideration of the degradation to the connected streams, lakes, and rivers;
  • without any opportunity for public input on any specific facility; and
  • with very limited consideration of the cumulative effect of the discharge pollution on drinking water wells.

This is a rash and very ill-advised move by DEQ, and we need you to speak up. Please take one minute, and tell DEQ that you don’t want any wastewater treatment facility permitted without public comment.

As a direct result of the Montana’s constitutional “right to know,” a recent permit to discharge pollution to groundwater near drinking water wells and the pristine Bitterroot River was revoked by a State district court. In response, instead of correcting its flawed permitting process to consider the cumulative negative effects of such discharges on groundwater and nearby streams as required by the court, DEQ is proposing to issue a “general permit” for any large domestic wastewater discharge facility, and to eliminate the public’s opportunity to comment on the impacts at specific sites. Location matters! Different facilities will require different considerations to protect water quality. A general permit is inappropriate for the large variety of hydrologic circumstances in the state. We can’t let this happen.

Please let DEQ know you don’t want any new wastewater treatment facilities approved without the public’s knowledge and input. The comment deadline is Wednesday. June 22nd, so you must act TODAY!

 

 

Say NO to Arch Coal’s Export Facility in Washington State

Contact Washington State Officials

This petition is now closed.

End date: Jun 14, 2016

Signatures collected: 357

357 signatures

DEADLINE IS JUNE 13, 2016

Arch Coal submitted an application to the State of Washington for a permit to build a massive coal export facility, and we need your help to convince Washington to say NO! The Washington State Department of Ecology (WSDE) is currently preparing an Environmental Impact Statement, and has released a draft review for public comment. We need you to take 1 minute, contact the WSDE, and ask that they select the NO ACTION alternative!

Arch Coal and Lighthouse Resources (owner of Montana’s Decker coal mine) are interested in expanding coal mining operations in Montana and Wyoming and shipping the coal to Asia. For this scheme to work, Arch Coal and Lighthouse Resources need to receive a permit to build a coal port shipping facility in Longview, Washington. This is your official chance to say NO!

As the United States transitions from dirty coal plants to clean and renewable energy sources, coal companies are looking to export coal to Asian markets in order to maintain their profits. Additional west coast coal export terminals are essential for companies like Arch Coal to send coal to countries like China and Korea. However, all of the proposed export facilities up to this point have been denied or canceled because of their major environmental impacts and poor economic outlook.

Exporting Montana’s coal will cause air and water pollution, destroy wildlife habitat, create traffic congestion and increase threats to public safety from increased train traffic. Most importantly, the coal will be burned and escalate climate change. We already have clean, affordable, and renewable alternatives that create thousands of jobs across Montana. We don’t need this destructive project. Please contact the WSDE today, and ask that they choose the NO ACTION alternative.

Gov. Bullock: With no railroad, there can be no mine

Contact the Governor and DEQ

This petition is now closed.

End date: Mar 24, 2016

Signatures collected: 266

266 signatures

Victory on the Tongue River Railroad means it time to stop working on the defunct Otter Creek Coal mine

Yesterday something truly momentous occurred. After more than 30 years, the U.S. Surface Transportation Board agreed to put the final stake through the heart of the Tongue River Railroad. (HOORAY!) The proposed railroad was most recently slated to haul coal from the ill-conceived Otter Creek coal mine to west coast export terminals where it would be shipped and burned overseas.

If the Surface Transportation Board can accept that there will be no railroad to haul the coal, the state of Montana must come to grips with reality and stop wasting taxpayer resources studying the potential effects of a mine at Otter Creek. Please tell Gov. Bullock to stop wasting government resources by studying a mine that will never be permitted.

Arch Coal, the bankrupt mine developer, doesn’t even have the right to mine the area any longer. Arch relinquished the leases on a major section of the mine site back to the previous owner when it couldn’t pay its bills. It even told the state it was suspending all permitting activity for the mine. Now, without a railroad to move the coal out of the area, there can be no mine.

Tell Gov. Bullock, enough is enough. It’s time to spend state resources thinking about the future and clean energy, not desperately grasping at ghosts from the past.

The victory on the Tongue River Railroad was brought about by thousands of people in Montana and the region who worked to protect property rights, water quality, family farms and ranches, and to tackle climate change. A special thanks goes to the landowners who spent decades fighting the proposal, the Northern Cheyenne Tribe, and a number of passionate and committed lawyers including Jack Tuholske, Jenny Harbine with Earthjustice, and Carrie La Seur.

Tell Governor Bullock Not to Throw Your Money Down the Drain

Contact the Governor

This petition is now closed.

End date: May 01, 2016

Signatures collected: 267

267 signatures

Yesterday Governor Bullock shockingly suggested that NorthWestern Energy consider buying more of the Colstrip-coal-fired power plant. He offered Montana’s support for transferring ownership of the plant to NorthWestern or any other new owners. The Colstrip plant is old, dirty, unreliable, and expensive. There are better ways to create jobs and provide affordable electricity in Montana. Ask Gov. Bullock to stop wasting taxpayer money on last century’s technology. The future lies in clean energy. And the future is now. Ask him to lead in solving climate change and creating more clean energy jobs in Colstrip and across Montana.

Solar and wind energy are crushing fossil fuels in the marketplace — without subsidies. With the nation’s second best wind resources, abundant solar energy, and untapped energy efficiency potential, Montana should be leading the way toward a new energy future, or we will be left behind.

Having NorthWestern buy a larger share of the Colstrip plant is irresponsible and quite simply a terrible idea for Montana families, businesses, taxpayers, and the environment. NorthWestern says it doesn’t need more power. It just purchased the hydroelectric system from PPL at a premium. At that time NorthWestern concluded that the Colstrip plant is a massive $340 million liability.

Colstrip Units 1 & 2 were expected to have a 30-year life when they were built. That was 40 years ago. Numerous independent financial and energy analysts have warned that Colstrip is a bad investment.

Tell the Governor to invest the state’s time and resources moving Montana forward toward a clean energy future, not tethering us to the high-cost, high-risk, highly polluting past.