By Todd O’Hair, Doug Martens and Peggy Trenk, Montana Standard
Energy security is national security.
It’s a mantra we’ve heard repeated ad nauseam since Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24 — and as recent events have shown, it couldn’t be more true.
Just one look at America’s current energy portfolio shows the precarious position our country, and our state, is in. Montana, and the United State as a whole, has gone from being a net energy exporter to teetering on the brink of becoming a net importer and an energy crisis that could rival the shortages seen in the 1970s.
But we didn’t get here overnight. The energy crisis we are facing isn’t just the result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. It is the result of systematic efforts to undermine our domestic energy producers, despite technological advances that allow them to produce energy with little to no environmental impact. It is the result of government efforts, in coordination with environmental extremists, to pick winners and losers in the energy industry and to put our producers of base-load power at a disadvantage.
Time and again we’ve squandered opportunities to develop our natural resources and solidify our energy independence by subjecting our base-load energy producers to regulatory uncertainty and endless, expensive litigation.
One has to look no further than the Rosebud Mine in Colstrip to see how the decisions made in the process of frivolous litigation can chart the course of our energy future.
Despite years of permitting and jumping through regulatory hoops, when Westmoreland was granted their AM4 permit for the modest expansion of the Rosebud Mine, the Sierra Club and the Montana Environmental Information Center (MEIC) wasted no time in erecting as many legal barriers as possible to halt the expansion. And despite both the Department of Environmental Quality and the Board of Environmental Review upholding the permit, the Sierra Club and MEIC have continued to push forward — dragging out the permitting process in hopes that the expense of litigation combined with the lost revenue opportunity would be the death blow to yet another coal-producer.