Montana’s Sustainable Future?

You may have heard the ads on TV or the rhetoric that policy-makers and journalists often use to describe natural gas. It’s a “bridge fuel” that gives us time to develop renewable energy. It’s a “clean” fossil fuel without the greenhouse gas pollution of coal. It’s the “answer” to wind and solar’s “intermittency.”

Anna Fahey of the Sightline Institute says that expert marketing has framed our opinions of natural gas, but, when you look into it, all the positive promotions are hype. Natural gas is methane. Methane is 80 times more powerful as an atmospheric, heat-trapping greenhouse gas than CO2. All through its life, it leaks . . . from when it comes to the surface of the Earth as a result of fracking — or drilling, to when it travels from the well-head through pipelines, to when it reaches its combustion chamber. “In the U.S., the gas industry as a whole was responsible for more emissions than coal last year for the first time,” according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. Fahey’s article is here: http://www.sightline.org/2018/04/04/natural-gas-has-a-dirty-secret/

Montana’s largest utility, NorthWestern Energy, is proposing a heavy move to natural gas generators, which basically means Montanans will spend $1.3 billion to further the collapse of our climate. According to the Montana Climate Assessment, if we don’t halt greenhouse gas emissions in the near future, Montana is headed for an average increase of temperatures of 12 degrees Fahrenheit by 2100. By mid-century, we’ll have five to 35 more 90-degree days in our summer and between 24 and 44 more frost-free days in our winter. It means more fires, more dying streams, more insects in our forests, and damage to our two largest industries, agriculture and tourism/recreation. The Assessment is here: http://montanaclimate.org/

At the same time, recent polls have shown that Montanans overwhelmingly support more solar and wind. So it’s time for you to get involved. It’s time to cut emissions, reject the propaganda that says natural gas is “safe” or “clean” or a “bridge” fuel.

You can do that — right now — by joining a campaign that the Montana Sierra Club, 350 Montana, the Montana Environmental Information Center, and other groups are starting to push back against NorthWestern Energy’s plan to generate electricity by mining, transporting, and burning natural gas.

First step is to sign a letter to Bob Rowe, the CEO. Go here to do that:

https://sierra.secure.force.com/actions/National?actionId=AR0108645

Second, get on the bus with us on Wednesday, April 18. We’re going to NorthWestern Energy’s public hearing on its procurement plan. The meeting goes from 9 to noon at the company’s headquarters, 11 East Park Street in Butte. The agenda allows for questions and public comments. Send an email to yswolfhowl@gmail.com if you want to go. We’ll get you back to Missoula by mid-afternoon.

Thank you for helping plan a sustainable future.