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A fisherman casts his line into open water at the Causeway

A fisherman casts his line

into open water at the Causeway Fishing access site in this IR file photo.

Children raised in Montana are incredibly fortunate; most have access to a wild outdoor playground where the water is clean, the air fresh and the fish are, by and large, safe to eat.

This is part of Montana’s heritage. However, we cannot take for granted that it will always remain. Now is a critical time for safeguarding our children’s future.

As parents in Montana, we all share the responsibility to ensure that the next generation of Montanans will continue to enjoy our clean air and water. That’s one of the concerns that naturally comes with parenting, just like making sure our kids get proper nutrition and a good education.

In the Treasure State, we all use fossil fuels to travel and heat our homes. But the fact remains that our daily habit of burning fossil fuels carries a very real downside when it comes to pollution.

We all contribute to this problem, thus we must all be part of the solution.

From runoff in sludge ponds to mercury that ends up in our water, the burning of fossil fuels has real implications to our tiny humans. Pollution from burning coal has been linked to acid rain, childhood asthma and mercury, which can end up in our water and fish. Carbon pollution also contributes to a warming planet and changing weather patterns.

Even in Montana, where we enjoy some of the cleanest water in America, we are not immune from airborne pollution entering the water and our food chain. Popular sport fish such as walleye and pike are tainted with mercury, which can lead to neurological development problems in unborn children. While fish is a healthy source of protein, health experts in Montana recommend that women of child-bearing age, nursing mothers and children younger than 6 limit their consumption of many fish species, particularly larger fish. How do we explain that to a 5-year-old eager to fry up his first catch?

As mothers, we are encouraged to see states and power companies from coast to coast committing to meet America’s Clean Power Plan. We were glad to hear Gov. Steve Bullock remains committed to work towards a clean energy future in Montana, in spite of legal uncertainty surrounding the current Environmental Protection Agency process. Now is the time for Montanans to step up, work together and develop a made-in-Montana plan for clean power.

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In Montana we are blessed with multiple, abundant sources of energy, including fossil fuels, hydropower and solar and wind. Of these, solar and wind have a particularly bright future for providing good jobs right here in Montana, and contributing to America’s energy needs.

Montana has some of the cleanest air and water in the nation; let’s keep it that way.

Every parent we know wants to leave their children with a better world than the one we inherited. We want to do everything we can to ensure children thrive.

Moms Clean Air Force and Montana Mountain Mamas are working together to show our elected officials that mothers in Montana are paying attention. We urge Montana leaders to proudly commit to having the cleanest air and water in the country for our children and grandchildren. Our children’s future is in our hands.

For more information about our efforts, please visit www.montanamountainmamas.org and www.momscleanairforce.org and learn how you can get involved.

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Erica Lighthiser writes on behalf of Montana Mountain Mamas; Michelle Uberuaga writes on behalf of Moms Clean Air Force. Both live in Livingston. 

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