NWE’s Plan Is Bad News for Our Climate

To write a plan calling for more greenhouse gas pollution when Montana needs to cut its CO2 and methane is akin to climate suicide. NorthWestern Energy’s chief operating officer, Bob Rowe, wrote an opinion column in The Great Falls Tribune on March 4 calling for increasing his company’s coal-fired electricity. At best he’s uninformed. At worst, he’s sentencing our children and grandchildren to a decidedly more difficult life than he’s been given. Put simply, it’s an immoral act by a person who should know better.

We know our climate is warming:

  • Montana had to cut $50 million in essential services to pay its fires bills in 2017.
  • The fires reduced Montana’s tourist visitations by 400,000 visitors.
  • Montana lost $240 million in our recreational economy.
  • Meteriologists coined a new phrase, “flash draught,” to describe 2017’s normal winter and spring precipitation and then a devastating dry-out of forests and grain fields.
  • Nearly a million acres of barley in Montana’s Golden Triangle worth $240 million shriveled when the rain stopped and the 95-degree days became relentless.
  • 2016 Montana Farmers Union study, “The Impacts of Climate Change on Montana’s Agriculture Economy,” concluded that the impact of unchecked climate change on Montana’s two primary agricultural sectors is projected to be a 20 percent decline in rangeland cattle production and a 25 percent reduction in grain production. That means losses of 25,000 jobs and $736 million in labor earnings by mid-century.
  • And a 2015 Montana Wildlife Federation study, “Impact of Climate Change on the Montana Outdoor Economy,” documented a potential loss of 11,000 jobs and $281 million income due to stream closures that limit fishing, lost hunting opportunities, wildfires, and reduced snowpack for winter recreational activities if we do nothing to limit greenhouse gases.

In other words, Montanans no longer have to wait for climate change. The 2017 Montana Climate Assessment confirms that temperatures have already risen 2 to 3 degrees Fahrenheit since 1950 and will rise another 4.5 to 6 F by mid-century. Montana’s best scientists say we’re headed for an average increase of 12 F by the end of this century, with profound effects on sustaining our water resources, economy, food production, hydroelectric power, and natural ecosystems.

We’ve reached a tipping point where doing nothing costs more than addressing the problem. We have a limited window to change our trajectory. We must act with deliberation and urgency. Commenting on NorthWestern Energy’s plan is one specific thing Montanans who care about our future can do.

You Can Make a Difference

Montanans want more clean energy. A 2016 poll found the following:

  • 95 percent of voters favored more electricity from wind,
  • 87 percent wanted more solar,
  • and, when asked how we should replace the retiring coal-fired electricity at Colstrip, 74 percent wanted renewable energy.

If you’re one of these voters, it’s critical that you write the company and the Public Service Commission.

Let NorthWestern Energy know that citizens are concerned about climate change and don’t support any plan to spend billions of ratepayers’ money to build more fossil fuel plants.

Read the Executive Summary Here: http://www.northwesternenergy.com/docs/default-source/documents/environment/draft-2019-electricity-supply-resource-procurement-plan-executive-summary.pdf

Read the full procurement plan: http://www3.northwesternenergy.com/environment/energy-supply