by Anne Hedges
Now that the election results have had a chance to sink in, here are some quick thoughts on what it means for the environment.
Two recent Montana specific polls tell an undeniable truth – Montanans love clean energy. While we’ve known for years that the nation and the world support more clean energy development, these polls bring it home to our own backyard. And while Montanans support for renewable energy is off the charts, our support for increased energy efficiency is nearly unanimous.
This week the Energy Information Administration (EIA) put out electricity generation numbers for mountain west states showing an on average decline in coal use by 13% over the past ten years.
Guest post by Ed Smeloff, Managing Director of the Regulatory Team at Vote Solar
There’s an emerging trend among utilities across the country to undermine a law that promotes solar energy. The attack is on a decades-old law called the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act, or PURPA – a law that has paved the way for policies that have brought renewable energy into the mainstream in the United States.
Montana is riddled with the ghosts of industries past – the Berkeley Pit, the Clark Fork River, the Zortman/Landusky, Beal Mountain, and Belt Creek mines, the ASARCO smelter site in East Helena, the asbestos contamination in Libby – just to name a few. The list goes on and on, for both recent as well as historic sites, at which the land and water have been polluted and degraded, and, too often, which have required taxpayer funds to remediate and manage them.
A wastewater discharge permit issued to the proposed Grantsdale subdivision on Skalkaho Road south of Hamilton by the Montana Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) was issued illegally according to a recent State district court ruling.
The science is in. The practice of hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” can and does lead to contamination of ground and surface water. This fact has been shown in several studies that have conclusively demonstrated a link between fracking activities and groundwater pollution. These findings are not all that shocking, as no technology is 100% safe, regardless of the misinformation that the oil and gas industry has been spewing for the past decade. There are numerous ways that the chemicals used in fracking can pollute water, including during the drilling process, transportation to and from the drill site, while being stored after drilling, and when well blow-outs occur.
MEIC joined with environmental organizations in Wyoming, Montana and across the nation to challenge the U.S. Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) decision to open vast amounts of federal land to oil, gas, and coal development. BLM’s Resource Management Plans (RMPs) are intended to guide the agency’s decision making in managing federal lands. In this instance, BLM issued an RMP for the entire Rocky Mountain region, including the coal-rich Montana and Wyoming Powder River Basin. BLM’s RMP would open more than 10 million acres of land for oil and gas drilling and coal mining in the Powder River Basin over the next 20 years.
Below are two updates on the proposed Smith River copper mine. This mine is proposed by an Australian mining company that wants to mine adjacent to and directly underneath Sheep Creek, the most important tributary of the Smith River. The Smith River is Montana’s only recreational river requiring floating permits. It is an incredible resource for the state of Montana, and an ecological wonder. It’s certainly not the place for a large hardrock mine.
Every two years NorthWestern Energy is required to submit a long-term plan to the Montana Public Service Commission (PSC) outlining the utility’s 20-year vision for the energy sources it will acquire to meet the needs of its customers’ homes and businesses. The plan is called the “Electricity Supply Resource Procurement Plan” (RPP) and the latest version was released earlier this year.