Below is a quick and easy list of high-impact actions you can take this week that will help fight for our right to a clean and healthful environment. Pick one or do all four. However much you decide to do will help make a difference.

You can leave a message for individual legislators, as well as House and Senate Committee members, by calling Legislative Services at (406) 444-4800 from 7:30 AM to 5:00 PM. You can also e-mail individual legislators by visiting our 2017 Legislators Contact Page and entire committees by using the pop-up links below for the committees.

1. Help MEIC amplify your voice in the Capitol.

There is just one month left in the 2017 Montana legislative session – and we’re asking for your help. This is a session of very few good bills, most of which have already been defeated, and many bad ones. To salvage what we can of this mess, we want to:

  • increase our direct contact with voters around the state;
  • make targeted mailings to critical legislative districts;
  • step up our lobbying of legislators at the Capitol; and
  • work with Gov. Bullock’s office to encourage him to veto the worst of the bills.

Please consider making a special legislative contribution today, either using the envelope you recently received in the mail, or by clicking here to donate now.

Representative Nate McConnell

Rep. Nate McConnell, working to protect the Smith River.

2. Protect the Smith River and other Montana rivers and streams from mine pollution. 

HB 593 (Rep. Nate McConnell, D-Missoula) would require mines proposed in sulfide ore bodies to post a bond that is 50% greater than the amount normally required. Sulphide ore bodies are the precursors to acid mine drainage, a chemical process that has been the death sentence for several of Montana’s rivers and streams. This bill would also require mining companies to have independent audits to ensure they have adequate bonds and are complying with all environmental laws.

Please contact your Representative and ask her/him to protect Montana’s rivers and streams and support HB 593.

Representative Carl Glimm

Rep. Carl Glimm

3. Protect Montana’s water by asking the Senate Natural Resources Committee to oppose HB 339. 

HB 339 (Rep. Carl Glimm, R-Kila) would overturn last year’s Montana Supreme Court decision protecting the state’s water resources and property rights from sprawl. The bill would re-open the exempt-well loophole that the Supreme Court wisely closed, and give developers the right to take the water ahead of those who are legally entitled to that water.

It’s bad policy based on bad science and would deplete streamflows, undermine senior water rights, increase sprawl, and spark conflict among water users. It’s irresponsible, putting development before water security and our prized fisheries. It’s unfair, letting subdivisions cut in line to grab water before everyone else – including those with senior rights. It’s bad science, imposing arbitrary guidelines for water use in a state with complex hydrology and already over-allocated streams.

Please contact the Senate Natural Resources Committee and ask them to oppose HB 339 and protect Montana’s water.

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4. Hold utilities accountable for gas and electricity rates.

HB 475 (Rep. Tom Woods, D-Bozeman) would make clear the Public Service Commission’s (PSC) authority to initiate a general rate case for electricity and gas rates at any time it is considered in the public interest. Currently, uncertainty exists about the PSC’s ability to initiate a general rate case on its own.

NorthWestern Energy’s last electric rate case occurred in 2009, meaning no current PSC commissioner has gone through one for NorthWestern. This is an unusually long period of time, leading many to believe the utility is making more in revenue than it should be. This bill would allow the PSC to hold utilities accountable for proving their electric and gas rates are justified and reasonable in a more timely manner. The PSC voted unanimously to support HB 475.

Please contact the Senate Energy Committee and ask them to support HB 475 to hold utilities accountable.

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