Montana Environmental Information Center

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

Contact the Governor and DEQ

Dear Governor Bullock and DEQ,

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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.

Oil and Gas: Don’t Use Our Air as a Dumpster

Contact the BLM

This petition is now closed.

End date: Apr 23, 2016

Signatures collected: 226

226 signatures

Methane releases from oil and gas development are a significant source of air pollution and climate change emissions. In fact, in 2013 methane accounted for about 10% of all greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. What’s more, pound for pound, the impact of methane releases on climate change is 25 times greater than C02 over a 100-year period. Fortunately, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has just released a draft rule that is the first-ever aimed at reducing methane emissions from oil and gas operations. We need you to take 1 minute, and tell the BLM that not only do you support the rule, but that you would like to see it improved!

The new rule proposed by the BLM is predicted to reduce methane pollution by 340,000 to 400,000 short tons in 2025, or the equivalent of 7.7-9.0 million metric tons of carbon dioxide. More importantly, a strong rule will ensure that the methane will no longer be wasted, but rather will be captured and utilized as natural gas in homes and businesses. This means that we will stop wasting this valuable resource, and will increase the royalty payments to the U.S. Treasury from public resources.

According to the BLM, between 2009 and 2014, enough natural gas (including methane) was lost through venting, flaring, and leaks to heat more than five million homes for a year. Instead of heating homes and increasing our royalty revenues, it went into the atmosphere and warmed the global climate.

Please take 1 minute, and tell the BLM that you support its efforts to combat climate change and a waste of a public resource.

Gas flaring. Torch against the sky.

Gas flaring. Torch against the sky.

Say NO to Electronic Billboards on Montana Highways!

Contact the MDOT

This petition is now closed.

End date: Apr 02, 2016

Signatures collected: 493

493 signatures

The Montana Department of Transportation (MDOT) is considering regulations that would allow for energy wasting and distracting, electronic billboards along highways or interstates. The MDOT appears to be caving to the demands of the advertising industry, and has crafted new regulations that would overturn MDOT’s current ban on electronic billboards. We need you to take 1 minute, contact the MDOT, and tell them that electronic billboards are unsightly, distracting, a waste of energy, and are not welcome in Montana.

Read the Proposed Rules

2015 was a record breaking year for Montana tourism, with up to 12 million visitors to our great state. They didn’t come to Montana to look at flash billboards that are lit up 24 hours a day. They came for expansive vistas, and the ability to avoid obnoxious electronic distractions. Take 1 minute, and contact the MDOT. Ask that they uphold Montana’s current prohibition on electronic billboards.

Support Local Solar in Montana!

Contact the Interim Energy Committee Today

This petition is now closed.

End date: Mar 11, 2016

Signatures collected: 409

409 signatures

Show Your Support for Solar!

Contact the Energy Interim Committee Today

Montana’s energy interim committee is currently analyzing the state’s net metering policy and making recommendations for next legislative session. Net metering allows individuals and businesses to receive credit on their energy bill for the power generated by their own solar arrays and other renewable energy systems.

It is important that interim committee members hear that there is strong public support for rooftop and community solar in Montana! Solar energy is growing rapidly in Montana and net metering and community solar will help foster and expand this growth.

The energy interim committee meets this Friday, March 11th. Please contact the committee TODAY and let them know you support rooftop solar, community solar and net metering!

Please voice your support for solar and net metering by highlighting its economic, public health and environmental benefits. Here are just a few of the benefits to note:

  • Helps provide economic security to individuals and businesses by lowering their monthly energy bills
  • Benefits other consumers by reducing overall energy use and avoiding the need for the utility to build costly new power plants
  • Supports local jobs and economic development in communities across Montana
  • Reduces environmental and public health costs associated with pollution

Also, please let the energy interim committee know that you support community solar!

Community solar is another important policy that the interim committee should embrace. Montana law currently prevents public utilities from developing community solar projects that allow individuals to invest and receive credit for their share of a community solar project.

Several Montana co-ops have developed successful community solar projects. It is only fair that Northwestern Energy and Montana Dakota Utilities customers are afforded the same opportunity.

Tell the PSC not to Increase Energy Bills for Dirty Old Coal!

Contact the PSC

This petition is now closed.

End date: Mar 06, 2016

Signatures collected: 182

182 signatures

Montana Dakota Utilities (MDU), a utility that serves customers in eastern Montana, is asking the Montana Public Service Commission (PSC) to approve a rate hike for its dirty little coal plant on the banks of the Yellowstone River. MDU’s total proposal would increase Montana consumers’ electric bills by over 13 percent!

If the PSC approves the rate increase, it would help pay for $400 million in futile upgrades to two coal-fired power plants. One of these, the Lewis and Clark Station, in Sidney, Montana, is nearly 60 years old and burns lignite – the dirtiest form of coal. The other plant, Big Stone II, is located in South Dakota and the company is trying to dump millions of dollars in costs onto Montana ratepayers. We need you to contact the PSC TODAY, and ask that they not approve these absurd hikes in MDU customers utility bills.

Instead of wasting ratepayer’s money to cobble together aging coal plants, the utility should be investing that money in renewable resources and energy efficiency. Eastern Montana has some of the best wind resources in the country and the utility should stop throwing ratepayer money down the dirty old coal plant drain.

Contact the Montana Public Service Commission TODAY and ask them not to approve MDU’s proposed rate increase to fund 1958 vintage coal units like the Lewis and Clark Station. Instead, the PSC should encourage the utility to invest that money in new, affordable renewable energy resources.

Clean energy or coal? Support clean energy in the Northwest.

Contact Washington Regulators

This petition is now closed.

End date: Feb 02, 2016

Signatures collected: 245

245 signatures

Deadline February 1, 6:00 PM MDT

Montana is at a major crossroads in tackling climate change. We can continue to rely upon an old, expensive, and dirty coal-fired power plant, or we can plan for the inevitable transition to a clean energy future. The largest owner of the Colstrip coal-fired power plant, Puget Sound Energy (PSE), is currently planning its energy future. Washington state regulators must approve this plan. PSE’s plan is a critical step in thoughtfully transitioning Montana and Washington to a clean energy future. We need you to contact Washington regulators today, and ask that they only approve a plan that prepares for a transition from coal to cleaner energy sources.

PSE has repeatedly failed to plan for a transition from the Colstrip plant to clean energy. PSE’s newest 20-year plan is business as usual. With the Colstrip coal plant’s days limited, failing to address a transition from coal to clean energy is shortsighted and irresponsible.

Montana has one of the best wind energy resources in the nation, and now several solar energy projects are being proposed across the state. Wind and solar will provide electricity and good paying jobs – but only if we plan for the transition. It’s also increasingly clear that the Colstrip coal plant is on its last legs. We must plan ahead for Colstrip’s retirement to ensure a smooth and just transition for workers and consumers and to guarantee full and complete reclamation and remediation of the area.

Regulators will be making a decision soon–we need you to act NOW to make your voice heard.

Thank you for taking action!

Congressman Zinke: Support the Clean Power Plan

Contact Congressman Zinke

This petition is now closed.

End date: Dec 02, 2015

Signatures collected: 396

396 signatures

As early as tomorrow, Congressman Ryan Zinke will vote on resolutions that could permanently block the Clean Power Plan. These resolutions are an extreme assault on public health, Montana’s rapidly expanding clean energy economy, and the modernization of our energy sector. It is imperative that you contact Congressman Zinke and ask that he vote against these terrible resolutions.

The Clean Power Plan puts in place commonsense limits on power plant carbon pollution, and requires a plan to be developed with the input of folks from across Montana. It provides the flexibility Montana needs to develop a plan to meet pollution reduction targets and grow our economy.  Blocking these commonsense safeguards puts polluter profits before the health of our children and compromises one of Montana’s fastest-growing sectors: clean energy.

Coal-fired power plants are the country’s single largest source of the pollution fueling climate change, and the Clean Power Plan is the single biggest step we have ever taken to tackle climate change. Montanans are already experiencing the effects of climate change through lower snowpack, less water in our rivers and streams, and longer and more intense fire seasons.

The world’s leading scientists agree that failing to act on climate change will ensure worsening extreme weather events, threaten food supplies and increase public health risks. Please take 1 minute, and ask Congressman Zinke to oppose these resolutions that put the health of our children and families at risk, threaten the quality of our air, and strip the tools Montana needs to address dangerous carbon pollution.

Support a Sustainable Energy Plan for Montana and the Northwest!

JudithGap2The Northwest Power and Conservation Council (Council) has developed a draft energy plan that will guide critical energy decisions and electricity resources, such as wind and solar power, in the states of Montana, Idaho, Washington and Oregon for the next 20 years.

The draft 7th Power Plan (Plan) is available for public comment until December 18th.  The final plan will be released in February 2016. We need you to contact the Council, and ask that they support a plan that prioritizes efficiency, reduces carbon pollution, and develops our clean energy resources!