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By Kathy Juedeman

From the vantage point of protecting clean air and clean water, and encouraging clean energy, 2023 has been the most challenging Montana Legislative session in a generation. Our staff has shown outstanding dedication and daily perseverance to the MEIC mission, even facing down this disappointing legislative bill roster. This work is hard. Say “thank you” to a staff member, if you get the chance.

One of the issues that I have watched closely this legislative season was rooftop solar. We have solar at our Helena house where the installed panels allow us to operate our home and charge our electric car with energy produced from the panels. We also have solar installed at our family ranch near Great Falls, where the energy produced is an integral component of the family operation. Solar generates energy to heat the calving barn, to warm block heaters for tractors, and to keep stock tanks filled and ice-free.
Installation of solar was a good choice at both locations for us, and it would be a similarly good decision for lots of our Montana neighbors. HB 643 (rep. Josh Kassmier, R-Fort Benton) threatened to undermine fair rates for solar, making solar prohibitively expensive for Montanans across the state; defeating that bill was good for Montana. This defeat was a successful coordination across nonprofit allies, including Montana Renewable Energy Association and Northern Plain Resource Council, who also recognized the dangerous consequences of this bill.

Our MEIC team has worked hard to prepare for the 2023 session, understanding that this would be challenging. They are well-prepared and well-informed, with a community-centric focus. While there is so much to commend in MEIC’s work this legislative session, what stands out about our staff is their unwavering attention to preserving and protecting the Montana that we love. Keeping Montana clean and healthful is the issue of our time.

The other heroes in this legislative session are you, our MEIC members. Communications & Engagement Director Katy Spence implemented the online Action Center & Bill Tracker in 2021, and this continues to improve our involvement in the legislative processes. Our MEIC members have used the information from the Bill Tracker to amplify staff efforts: Zooming to hearings, writing letters to the editor, sharing actions on social media, signing petitions, making phone calls to key legislators, sending emails to individual legislators, and sending emails to entire committees. This is an incredible mobilization fighting for Montana’s environment.

Your efforts have made a positive difference in outcomes with a number of bills and in the tone of conversations, encouraging legislators to fully the consider impacts to clean air and water, mining, land use, and clean energy. Positive conversations on environmental topics build stronger baselines for discussions in future sessions: Montanans care about the environment, and we aren’t going away.

MEIC members continue to demonstrate a community working together to keep Montana’s air and water clean, and our governing officials can see that force of will. Thank you for your continued support of MEIC and our mission.


Kathy worked in the energy industry for 32 years. Her career included broad experience in management, project management, and a background in global information technology. She has been a supporter of MEIC since the 1990s and intends to be a strong advocate for advancing Montanans’ right to a clean and healthful environment.


This article was published in the March 2023 issue of Down To Earth. 

Read the full issue here.


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