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Opinion: Truth and facts matter
Guest column

Opinion: Truth and facts matter

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Montanans, do you value truth? We think you do.

George Packer, The Atlantic's staff columnist, wrote, “America under (Donald) Trump became less free, less equal, more divided, more alone, deeper in debt, swampier, dirtier, meaner, sicker, and deader. No number from Trump's years in power will be more lastingly destructive than his 25,000 false or misleading statements. Trump's lies will linger for years, poisoning the atmosphere like radioactive dust" ("A Political Obituary for Donald Trump").

Packer was right. But the granddaddy of all lies perpetuated by Republicans, with Trump's imprimatur, is climate change denial. Yet the monstrously destructive outcomes from climate denialism may finally be too dire for even the most corrupt fossil fuel corporations. Just in the last two weeks, the International Energy Agency (IEA), replete with oil and gas apologists, recommended in a bombshell new report, “There is no need for investment in new fossil fuel supply in our net zero pathway.”

After reading this report, Bill McKibben, co-founder, paraphrased (from his New Yorker newsletter): “It says that, after two hundred and fifty years, in the view of the I.E.A., the time has come to stop exploring for oil, gas, and coal”.

Additionally, climate reporter Jillian Ambrose, from The Guardian, recounted major fossil fuel corporation setbacks (May 29): “In a stunning series of defeats for the oil industry, over the course of less than 24 hours, courtrooms and boardrooms turned on the executives at Shell, ExxonMobil and Chevron. Shell was ordered by a court in the Hague to go further to reduce its climate emissions, while shareholder rebellions in the U.S. imposed emissions targets at Chevron and a boardroom overhaul at Exxon.”

The magnitude of climate cancer's existential threat to our children's livable futures is finally sinking in, especially here in Montana. Deficits and excessive taxes won't ruin our grandchildren's future pursuits of happiness. It will be polluted air (think: wildfires); scarce clean, cold water (think: dying fish); farming with dying soils (think: lost production); and mourning another beloved animal or plant species lost to extinction.

Luckily, Montanans can overcome at least one climate lie. We can challenge South Dakota's monopoly utility, NorthWestern Energy (NWE). They're promoting construction of a new natural gas-fired generator, to be built near Laurel, projected to operate for an estimated 33 years, as the best they can do. They claim fracked gas is the most cost-effective new energy procurement for providing future electricity to ratepayers. But is it?

Knowing NWE has seldom been honest with ratepayers about climate change, or about the real costs to our planet of extracting and burning fossil fuels, especially natural gas (which is methane and 80 times more powerful a greenhouse gas than CO2), 350 Montana commissioned a new study by Vibrant Clean Energy (VCE) to challenge NWE's assertions about new energy sources. Our study, “Affordable and Reliable Decarbonization Pathways for Montana” was released May 14, and the study's truths are crystal clear. Montana's cleanest energy is also its cheapest energy. Wow, this is a game-changer!

Our website,, has a lot more details, and a great synopsis on the findings from the VCE modeling study. Please take a look, as truth and facts are important.

Finally, regarding truth, Washington Post columnist Michael Gerson nailed it (May 3), “Knowingly repeating a lie — an act of immorality — is now the evidence of Republican fidelity.” Amen to that. NorthWestern executives, Montana Republicans, stop lying.

This opinion is from the 350 Montana Leadership Team, whose members include Beth Taylor Wilson, Jeff Smith, Jim Parker, Dave Harmon, Bill Geer, Marta Meengs and John Woodland. 

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