Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Dear Governor Bullock...

You may have read in the papers that a group of Democratic legislators wrote to the Governor last week expressing support for the Clean Power Plan and pledging to work with him to develop the state’s implementation strategy. That may be all you need to know, but it you want the details, here’s the text of the letter:

We write to you as members of the Montana legislature to express our continuing support for the Clean Power Plan as it was recently announced in final form by the Environmental Protection Agency. We recognize that the plan now requires the state to make a larger effort to control carbon emissions than originally anticipated, and accordingly imposes on the state a new set of challenges, but also opportunities. As you know, the plan is designed to give states wide latitude and substantial authority to determine how they can best meet their emissions reductions targets, and we were impressed by the efforts of the Department of Environmental Quality, under your administration, to use that latitude to respond creatively to the initial EPA proposal. We believe that work should continue forward, as provided for under the final plan, and we are committed to assisting you in that effort in whatever way we can.  The consequence of not doing so would be to have a compliance plan imposed upon us by the Federal government, and so far as we know, nobody wants that to happen.

We take it as a matter of settled science that climate change is occurring; that it will have a dramatic and destructive impact throughout the world, including here in Montana; that it is caused principally by the combustion of fossil fuels; and that it can only be arrested by the radical restructuring of global energy systems. We believe that arresting climate change is one of the major social and political imperatives of  our era, and although doing so will be disruptive and somewhat costly, ignoring that imperative in the name of protecting the status quo would be irresponsible, and an abandonment of our duty to protect future generations from irreparable harm. The challenge before us is to help ourselves and our fellow citizens through the process of change and to find a way in which costs of change can be equitably shared. We simply cannot obstinately refuse to recognize the realities of the issue, or cast it as a partisan political battle, or use it as a cudgel to attack the President or the Federal government.

We recognize that climate change is a global problem that can be effectively addressed only by international cooperation, and we know that by itself the Clean Power Plan cannot solve the problem. But we also note that the international system appears to be trapped in a state of inaction in which effective international agreements have been extremely difficult to come by. In this situation, it is imperative that as a nation and a state, we provide leadership to move forward. If we all sit on our hands waiting for some other nation to take the initiative, we will all be sitting on our hands forever.

We want to emphasize the fact that the Clean Power Plan presents us with opportunities, in the form of employment, investment and technological innovation in energy efficiency, conservation and renewable energy production. We believe that these opportunities can effectively offset the challenges posed as established fossil fuel based energy sectors, and particularly coal, contract. Perhaps more to the point: However these impacts balance out, we believe that the Montana economy has already demonstrated remarkable dynamism and the ability to adapt to significant transformation of the energy system. Due mainly to market forces, the transition to less carbon intensive and renewable energy has been under way for some time now, and the sky has not fallen. On the contrary: The Montana economy is healthy and buoyant and is now well situated to absorb the impacts of the plan, whatever they prove to be. We believe that it is simply but seriously mistaken to think that the Clean Power Plan threatens our prosperity. On the contrary: we believe that the potential effects of the plan are quite small when compared to the sea changes that the Montana economy has weathered over the past three decades. That said, we urge you, as you move forward, to seek the most efficient and lowest cost ways to meet Montana’s emissions reductions obligations under the plan.

Again, we stand ready to assist you in any way we can as you and all the citizens of Montana and the nation prepare to meet this critical challenge.

             Sen. Dick Barrett     Rep. Bryce Bennett     Rep. Zach Brown     Rep. Virginia Court
Rep. Willis Curdy     Rep. Kimberly Dudik     Rep. Mary Ann Dunwell     Rep. Jenny Eck
Rep. Janet Ellis     Sen. Tom Facey     Rep. Ellie Boldman Hill     Rep. Denise Hayman
Rep. Jessica Karjala      Sen. Christine Kaufmann      Rep. Kathy Kelker   
Sen. Cliff Larsen    Rep. Ed Lieser    Rep. Nate McConnell    Rep. Margie MacDonald
Sen. Mary McNally     Sen. Sue Malek     Sen. Mary Moe     Rep. Andrea Olsen 
Sen. Mike Phillips    Sen. JP Pomnichowski    Rep. Chris Pope    Rep. Jean Price
Sen. Diane Sands     Rep. Tom Steenberg     Rep. Kathleen Williams   
Rep. Nancy Wilson     Sen. Cynthia Wolken     Rep. Tom Woods