HELENA – President Barack Obama’s goal of limiting carbon dioxide emissions has put Democratic leaders in energy-producing states such as Montana in a bind, caught between bellicose Republican statements of a “war on coal” and emboldened environmentalists who are calling for swift action.

That has forced leaders such as Gov. Steve Bullock into something of a hedge, telling the public to wait for the details of Obama’s plan while assuring them that energy production will remain a major economic driver and a source of employment.

“We make and export energy. That is part of what we do,” Bullock said Monday. “I think that even the administration recognizes that we just don’t throw the switch, and we really aren’t in an either/or situation.”

Obama’s plan to fight climate change, announced last week, would include executive action to place limits on carbon pollution from new and existing power plants, while expanding development of renewable energy.

Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said the president’s energy policy will still embrace traditional energy sources such as coal and oil.

Republican leaders in Montana are unconvinced. They predicted dire consequences for the state, calling the plan a war on energy and a job killer.

“This is a war on Montana energy, Montana families and small businesses and Montana jobs, and I will remain steadfast in the fight to stop the President’s job-killing agenda,” U.S. Rep. Steve Daines said in a statement.

Another Republican, Attorney General Tim Fox, warned the plan will blow a hole in the state’s budget.

“In attempting to rule by decree and legislate by regulation, President Obama has failed to take a balanced approach to energy policy and has failed to recognize the diverse interests and economies of 50 states,” Fox said.

Coal has a huge role in Montana in development and power generation. As of 2011, the state had 10 coal generators, including four at the massive 2,100-megawatt Colstrip electricity plant in eastern Montana.

New and expanded coal mines have been proposed in southeastern Montana by companies looking to tap into demand in Asia, and a portion of the Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada would run through Montana.

***

But while Republican leaders say Obama’s climate change plan jeopardizes all that, others say the president’s announcement means greater opportunities for the state to develop its renewable resources.

The state and nation are facing disaster from climate change, from degraded air quality to more wildfires to calamity for drought-stricken farmers, former Democratic U.S. Rep. Pat Williams said.

The transition to renewable energy sources must be speeded up, and Montana is well-positioned to take a leading role, he said in a conference call with reporters last week.

“There’s been enough hot air on this topic to create plenty of wind power for future turbines. The problem is we haven’t put up the turbines, or put up the (solar) panels or built the hydroelectric facilities,” he said.

Montana’s wind energy potential has only begun to be tapped, and has great potential for creating jobs and new cash through investments and landowner lease payments, said Kyla Maki of the Montana Environmental Information Center.

She dismissed the opposition to the president’s climate change plan, saying the president’s executive actions don’t really need buy-in from a reluctant Republican-led state Legislature.

“It would be great if the Legislature gets on board. But I don’t think we need legislative action to achieve these goals,” Maki said.

In this year’s session, GOP leaders stymied Bullock’s attempt to expand the Medicaid rolls as part of the Affordable Care Act. The governor said it is too soon to tell if lawmakers will get involved in the climate change initiative.

“I think it is a little premature to kind of be guessing how this will unfold,” Bullock said. “On the greater level, I think everybody agrees that having a national or international energy policy makes sense because no individual state can do this.”

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(15) comments

AL KIPF
AL KIPF

wes d - July 02, 2013 12:20 pm
"Oh, we should listen to the Republicans when regarding Science.... turn off the Glenn Beck...."

Gosh wes d, sounds like you're the one that should wake up. NewMontanaMan didn't mention the (R)(D) dialectic, you did.

When you wake up from your brainwashed slumber and can comment with competence, do so.

johnny Dollar
johnny Dollar

Big Al........How did that Solyndra project go? Yeah.......I know what you mean......all this "Feel Good" progressive science doesn't feel so good if you do NOT get one of those fat government loans. The only difference between the GOP and the DEMS is who gets the crony contracts. I am not taking it from either side, they are both wrong.

AL KIPF
AL KIPF

Amen brother. The voting process is simply an affirmation of which political party gets to waste the money of those on the tax and debt plantation. (D) wants all of your money while (R) wants most of it.

True change is beyond the ballot box, that time has long passed.

johnny Dollar
johnny Dollar

JUST a DECOY!

The president is not going to do anything......he is trying to divert attention from his many scandals that are all very ugly.

BETTER that you democrats take note that Obama has just singled out "INDIVIDUALS" to get soaked with high insurance premiums in 2014......NOT BIG Busienss, whom he gave a waiver.

And yet......dems insist that their party (Progressive party).......is ALL aBOUT the LiTTLE MAn.

raptor53
raptor53

thanks to the movie China Syndrome and the media ignorance over the Three Mile Island incident, America dumped its nuclear energy program to embrace coal, oil and natural gas. Oh but what about the nuclear waste and safety ? All handled with the available technology. By the way, not one person died at Three Mile Island during the so called accident. The engineering worked. It's the cleanest energy and very efficient. Comparative safety records on nuclear power generation show working at a nuke plant as safe as working in retail sales! We have lost 40 years of ensuring our competiveness in the world because our aging plants are ready to moth ball and we have built none. Most have far exceeded their original life expectancy. Our governement has failed us on this one. But do you think the rest of the world has been sitting idly by? GE reactors are all over the world and France now owns many of our former nuclear services companies. already in 1984, nuclear grade steel pipe had to be ordered in Japan for our domestic plants to keep them running. Every year we wait to meet the energy challenges of the future is another year lost. Build smarter, cleaner, safer, faster prototypes of commercial nuclear generating facilities for a solid American future, economically and environmentally.

Dr_Resonable
Dr_Resonable

Pat Williams stated: “There’s been enough hot air on this topic to create plenty of wind power for future turbines. The problem is we haven’t put up the turbines, or put up the (solar) panels or built the hydroelectric facilities.”
The HOT air is coming from Pat Williams, the EPA and the environazi’s. Let’s think about this for a second, if we were to put up the number of wind turbines and solar panels that are required to substitute the power that is being made by the coal plants, we would lose half the open space/farm land that we have in Montana. Let’s also throw in a couple of hydroelectric dams also, who gives a hoot about the trout or salmon? They don’t need to migrate. I am all for finding clean and RELIABLE and efficient alternative energy, but this is jumping the gun. All this will do is destroy Montana, not make it better. Just the failure rates/repair rates alone on the wind turbines do not even make them sustainable.
This is just another example of Obama being in over his head and not understanding what the nation needs. He has an agenda and all be d@mned that do not agree with him. I don’t trust anything that comes out of his mouth or out of the office of the POTUS. His term cannot be over soon enough. When he is gone maybe the economy will start to fully recover, not limp along like it has been doing.

Rez Kid
Rez Kid

Bullock is another Obama suck up just like Schweitzer was and still is. I remember attending my daughters graduation where Schweitzer was the speaker (2008). He said he was going to turn Montana into a coal gasification mecca. He said with our huge coal reserves he was going to make sure huge coal to gas plants were built in Montana, and that they would create thousands of new jobs. Well, once Obama and the extreme enviros got wind of that, they made sure he changed his tune and never allow that to happen. SPINELESS!!!

Obama has publically announced he wants to kill the coal industry. If Obama got his way about destroying certain segments of the energy industry and subsidizing wind and solar out the whazoo, we would be pretty much a third world country in 10 years with extremely high energy costs destroying our economy. How abour we go full bore on everything, wind, solar, oil, gas, coal and nuclear?? Not only can we do it in a responsible manner, it would create millions of jobs, turn the economy around, and make us pretty much energy independent. But Obama (and Bullock probably) would rather see us go ther opposite direction. It's pathetic.

DonaldM
DonaldM

I have been informed by people who know him that Bullock is more left than Schweitzer but nore honorable and trustworthy. I haven't seen the more honorable part, yet.

Bullock needs to realize that he was elected by a minority of voters. In other words, more of the people who voted for Governor(and Senator for that matter), voted for someone else.

I would like to see a Democrat who puts his/her responsibilities to the State and the Country ahead of any responsibility to the Democrat Party. That is the choice facing Bullock re this issue and others. Governor Bullock, does being a Democrat trump everythingelse for you?

walter12
walter12

Bullock better be very careful on this one. The majority of this country now knows what some of us knew long ago. Obama is a Marxist at heart, an open border man, an anti-Constitutionalist, a tyrant, a liar, and a fraud in many ways. When you destroy the ways to obtain real energy, gas, oil, coal, nuclear, and you make the masses pay alot more than necessary, you make alot of people angry.

NewMontanaMan
NewMontanaMan

Of course it is "wait for details!" We are talking about Obama, a mental midget, standing on a street corner telling us what to do and what is science; the entire scam that has been debunked and sent even Al Gore under ground. I want to see his college degree and his grades. This guy couldn't be a good dogcatcher in reality.

Cato
Cato

The NSA now knows everything except Obama's college courses and grades. Incompetents!

wes d
wes d

Oh, we should listen to the Republicans when regarding Science???? Evolution is just a theory, Jesus rode dinosaurs, and women came from Adam's rib right???? You're obsessed with Obama's grades?!?! What college did YOU go to and what where YOUR grades? I can tell ya one thing, you didn't achieve PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES! Take a back seat buddy and turn off the Glenn Beck....idi0t...

Gadfly
Gadfly

wes d is the only blog on the current site that makes a grain of sense. The rest are right wing nuts, flat earth minds, knee jerk oppositional anti-science, anti-change, ill-informed....They do not understand that what is being proposed is gradual not a sudden cessation of coal burning and production, just higher standards on emissions and gradual push to alternative, cleaner energies. Don't worry, we'll have dirty coal around for quite a while because it is the main source of power plant energy at present and we have no choice but to clean it up as much as possible and practical and gradually shift to other energies.

Roger
Roger

Prepare to get fleeced, by a President who doesn't understand that carbon dioxide is not driving climate change.

LBJenkins
LBJenkins

Roger - say carbon dioxide isn't driving climate change, it would still be a climate change additive would it not? I mean, you are projecting that you are capable of understanding basic chemistry and math. So, at this point you must understand that climate change is happening. So if climate change is taking off, and we are adding gas that traps heat in the atmosphere wouldn't be helpful (even if human consumption isn't the "driving force") to lessen the amount of fuel we are throwing towards that fire??? It is indisputable that the climate is heating up and quickly. At this point, who cares how it started, it is illogical to throw more fuel at an already stoked fire.

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