350 Montana is a grassroots affiliate of the international organization 350.org. We are five years old. Our mission is to reduce atmospheric concentrations of CO2 to 350 parts-per-million by implementing strategic actions and advocating policies to end fossil fuel burning with the greatest urgency. We envision a rapid transition to a 100 percent renewable global energy system powered by wind, water, and solar energy. We work with the grassroots global climate movement to achieve these goals and safeguard the Earth’s life-support systems.

We were greatly alarmed by NorthWestern Energy’s 2015 plan to build $1.3 billion in new fossil fuel plants. These would have been natural gas — or methane — generators. We’ve been successfully brainwashed to think that natural gas is a “bridge fuel.” But it is mostly methane, and methane is many times more powerful as a greenhouse gas than CO2. That, plus the company’s ignoring Montana’s vast renewable energy potential woke 350 Montana up! States like Colorado, Washington, and Oregon are rejecting costly new fossil fuel infrastructure and moving rapidly to renewable energy backed by innovative storage systems. Why not Montana?

In the past year we’ve written op-eds, spoken up at public hearings, and we’ve bought stock and attnded NorthWestern Energy’s stockholders’ meeting. We’ve also opened up an avenue of communication to the company’s board of directors and created a petition favoring clean energy that thousands of Montanans have signed.

Now, with the company’s CEO promoting a blank check for ratepayers to purchase more of Colstrip’s coal-fired electricity, it’s time to pull out the stops. It’s time to generate thousands of public comments on the 2019 plan to make sure the company and the regulators at the Public Service Commission know the way the winds are blowing in Montana. They are blowing toward clean energy, not more coal, methane, and more responsibility for the costly clean-ups of the Colstrip site.

350 Montana has also been spearheading a vote by elected officials in Missoula City and County to move to 100 percent clean electricity by 2030.