| Five Things

1. Keep up the pressure – stop coal bailouts!

UPDATE: SB 331 failed to pass the House on 3rd reading on April 16th. It is now very likely dead, however it’s still possible coal bailout language could be inserted into other bills that are still alive.

Please keep contacting your Representative, Senator, and the Governor and tell them to oppose a coal bailout in any form. There is plenty of time left in the legislative session for bills to become bad! 

  • Find out who your representative and senator is by using this link.
  • Call Governor Steve Bullock at (406) 444-3111 and ask that he oppose any coal bailout.

SB 331, by Sen. Tom Richmond (R-Billings), pretends to secure the future of the Colstrip coal-fired power plant, but all it really secures is higher energy bills for Northwestern Energy’s customers. SB 331 is a gift to NorthWestern’s shareholders at the expense of its customers.

More specifically, as recently amended, SB 331 would:

  • Saddle NorthWestern Energy customers like you and me with unknown and unreasonable risks and costs.
  • SB 331 it would still allow a monopoly utility to avoid the Public Service Commission oversight for the purchase of a large, dirty, coal-fired power plant.
  • Bypassing the PSC process in this way would be a first in Montana (and potentially the nation) and would not allow the PSC to verify a potential acquisition is the least cost resource and in the best interest of customers.
  • Once the potential purchase of Colstrip is complete, NorthWestern customers are on the hook for an increased share of the $700 million cleanup of the plant.
  • If that purchase occurs, NorthWestern could annually pass on tens of millions of dollars of escalating operation and maintenance costs, tens of millions of dollars of rising fuel costs, millions of dollars of increasing annual capital investments and many millions of dollars in undetermined remediation liabilities – even if a less expensive electricity resource is available.

What YOU Can Do:

  • Find out who your representative and senator is by using this link.
  • Call Governor Steve Bullock at (406) 444-3111 and ask that he oppose any coal bailout.


Passed the Senate 27-22. Amended and passed the House Energy Committee 7-5. Passed the House on 2nd reading 62-38. Failed the House on 3rd reading 37-60.

2. Protect Montana’s Renewable Energy Standard

HB 487, by Rep. Derek Skees (R-Kalispell), would completely undermine Montana’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) goal of incentivizing new renewable energy by allowing 100+ year old hydroelectric dams to count toward the standard.

The entire purpose of the RPS was to encourage new, additional renewable energy and economic development. The RPS has been successful so far in accomplishing this goal. Unfortunately, HB 487 does the exact opposite by allowing 100+ year old hydro dams to count instead of new renewable energy projects.

What YOU Can Do:

  • Call Governor Steve Bullock at (406) 444-3111 and ask that he oppose HB 487.


HB 487 has passed the House and Senate and is headed to the Governor’s desk.

3. Celebrate a huge MEIC court victory for clean water and in-stream flows!

When it comes to protecting some of the most pristine water on the planet, it’s not enough to make sure it’s clean. We also must ensure it’s not permanently drained away.

Last week a Montana District Court agreed, reversing a state agency’s decision to grant Hecla Mining Company and its subsidiary, RC Resources, a water use permit for the proposed Rock Creek mine. The company’s own analysis showed that groundwater pumping for this large-scale mine (which would tunnel beneath a fragile wilderness area) would permanently de-water pristine streams classified by Montana as Outstanding Resource Waters. 

It’s a major victory for the Cabinet Mountains Wilderness, the threatened fish and wildlife that depend on its cold, crisp streams, and for all who care about safeguarding clean water. By ruling that this permit violates Montana’s clean water protection laws, the court also affirmed that the state must protect these waters for all – not give them away to out-of-state corporate interests seeking more profit from our state’s riches.

Many thanks to the Clark Fork Coalition, Earthworks, and Save Our Cabinets for partnering with us on this case, and special thanks to Earthjustice, who filed the lawsuit on behalf of MEIC and these partners. And thanks to YOU for making it all possible!

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