The most frequent question we get at 350 Montana is, WHAT CAN I DO? Well, here are two opportunities for getting involved.

This Tuesday, October 31, from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. in a courtroom at the federal courthouse on the corner of East Broadway and Pattee Streets in Missoula (across from the Post Office), a federal judge will hear testimony on a big expansion of Montana’s Signal Peak Coal Mine near Roundup. Supporters, including a local group called Missoula Elders for a Livable Tomorrow (MELT), are asking for climate activists to fill the courtroom.

You won’t be able to testify, but your presence will be important. The argument in court reflects a legal standoff, between a coal mine wanting to double its size and opponents — MELT, the Sierra Club, and the Montana Environmental Information Center — that want to make sure there is a full examination (environmental impact statement) of the climate and environmental effects of the mine before miners break new ground.

The second field trip also centers on coal and global warming.

On Wednesday, November 8the Montana Sierra Club is organizing free transportation for those who want to attend and testify at a public hearing in Spokane on shutting down the coal-fired electrical generators at Colstrip. The Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission is hearing testimony on whether (and when) the Colstrip plants should be closed. The Sierra Club bus is leaving at 9 a.m. and will be back to Missoula at 8 p.m.

As you may know, Montana’s power plants at Colstrip are owned by out-of-state companies — although NorthWestern Energy owns a small part of the power produced by one of the four plants. The big companies have decided to decommission the plants between now and 2027. But there’s one holdout, Avista Energy in Spokane.

This hearing is a chance to let Avista know that Montanans know the source of our megafires, drought, and drying rivers and streams: the continued burning of greenhouse-gas-polluting plants like Colstrip. Over ninety percent of Montanans think Montana should expand its solar energy. Eighty-five percent say we should expand our wind energy. When asked a direct question, do you favor replacing the coal plants at Colstrip with renewable energy, 74 percent of Montanans say YES! (

Can you think of another issue in Montana that generates such agreement?

If you want to go to Spokane, you can reserve your seat by calling David Merrill, 549-1142.

We hope to see you in the federal courtroom tomorrow and on the bus to Spokane on November 8.

Jeff Smith, co-chair, 350 Montana