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By Amanda Eggert, Montana Free Press

Solar energy panels

A trio of Republican-sponsored bills seeking to limit local governments’ ability to steer their communities toward renewable energies are advancing through the Montana Legislature, despite pushback from two of the state’s largest and fastest-growing cities.

Officials for Bozeman and Missoula, both of which have climate action policies, say legislative meddling will impede elected officials’ ability to carry out the wishes of their residents and jeopardize their ability to develop the kind of energy infrastructure and policies that appeal to many of the competitive, high-dollar businesses that power those local economies. Proponents maintain the pro-petroleum fuel and anti-solar energy bills will preserve consumer choice, keep costs associated with new construction down, and help Montana stay ahead of “ill-advised” trends in places like Eugene, Oregon, which is considering a ban on new residential “fossil fuel infrastructure.”

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