The legislature continues to heat up! This week, we’re asking you to speak up on: 1) whether the state should override a citizen initiative that allows a public vote on nuclear energy, 2) phasing out the use of Styrofoam, and 3) cryptocurrency (i.e., Bitcoin) due to its reliance on enormous amounts of energy — often from dirty sources.
Don’t forget: Each week you can learn more about the most critical bills that MEIC is working on this session by going to our website at meic.org. You can also join us every Thursday at 5 PM for a rundown of the bills and the answers to your questions. This week, Andrew Valainis, Executive Director of the Montana Renewable Energy Association, will be joining us. You can join using your computer or phone.
1. Keep the Public Vote on Nuclear Energy
HB 273 by Rep. Derek Skees (R-Kalispell) would eliminate the current safeguards for nuclear energy development in Montana. HB 273 would overturn a citizen-passed initiative that gave voters the right to approve or reject a proposed nuclear facility. Repealing this language eliminates numerous important safeguards for the development of nuclear energy and eliminates the public’s ability to vote on whether or not Montana pursues nuclear energy.
There are numerous safety concerns – both in regard to health and the environment – associated with nuclear power. If any developer wants to pursue a nuclear energy project in Montana, then YOU should have the final say.
Please reach out to the members of the House Energy, Technology, and Federal Relations Committee to demand that your voice be heard if Montana were to pursue nuclear energy. Please send a message to the committee using this link. The hearing was held on Monday, February 8, but the House Energy Committee won’t vote on the bill until later this week.
2. Speak Out Against Polystyrene (AKA Styrofoam)
HB 265 by Rep. Marilyn Marler (D) would phase out the use of polystyrene (e.g. Styrofoam) for food-related business in Montana over the next five years. Starting in 2024, restaurants would have to stop using polystyrene to serve food and beverages. In 2025, restaurants, resorts, and hotels would have to stop using polystyrene for to-go boxes or pre-packaged food. And in 2026, food packaging plants would have to stop using polystyrene altogether.
Polystyrene is a toxic substance that is harmful to humans and the environment. When heated, toxic chemicals from polystyrene seep into food and beverages that harm human health. Polystyrene also tends to clog landfills because it is non-biodegradable, and even releases toxic chemicals into the atmosphere when it reacts to the heat from sunlight.
Please reach out to House Business and Labor, and let them know that you are ready for Montana to abandon polystyrene. You can send a message using this link. The bill has a hearing in House Business and Labor on Tuesday, February 9 at 8:30 but it won’t vote on the bill until later this week. It’s too late to testify via Zoom, so please call and leave a message for committee members at (406) 444-4800 or submit your support in writing.
3. Cryptocurrency is Dangerous – Pass It On
Cryptocurrencies are back in the news. That’s bad news for the fight against climate change. Recently, the cryptocurrency “Dogecoin” has received a lot of attention from prominent figures like Elon Musk, and now the currency is surging in the marketplace. Many believe that because cryptocurrencies, like Bitcoin and Dogecoin, are virtual they have little-to-no environmental impacts, but that’s not true. Cryptocurrency “mining” requires enormous amounts of electricity because it requires large amounts of computing power.
Some analysts have argued that Bitcoin alone could produce enough CO2 emissions to push global warming above 2°C in less than three decades. If public figures such as Elon Musk are serious about preventing climate change, then they need to put their money where their mouth is.
What can you do? Send Elon Musk a message on Twitter. Go to MEIC’s Twitter page, @mteic, and “like” and “retweet” our recent messages on the dangers of cryptocurrency. If enough of us do it, perhaps Elon Musk will get the message.