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This election is critical for our children's quality of life
Guest column

This election is critical for our children's quality of life


July 24, the Missoulian ran a front-page article about Steve Clawson, NorthWestern Energy's community relations manager, lauding Clawson for his role as incoming board chair for Missoula's Chamber of Commerce. Clawson hopes to tackle affordable childcare and housing for Missoulians. He also cited NorthWestern's involvement with Missoula's memorandum of understanding on 100% clean electricity goals.

About a month later, Clawson penned a Missoulian guest column ("Wrong to vilify regulated energy utility," Aug. 27) attacking local letter-writer Jan Hoem (Aug. 11), for daring to question NorthWestern's proposals surrounding Montanans' energy future. Clawson's column stated, "Customer rates are set after rigorous review by the public service commissions," also misleadingly stating that "61% of the energy we generate in Montana is carbon free."

Let's examine his words further. Our Montana Public Service Commission consists of five white, male Republican climate change deniers, one of whom (from our District 4) was caught by an "open mic" attempting to destroy net-metering rooftop solar initiatives. These commissioners also sleep through public hearings and fight each other over stolen emails.Their reviews of NorthWestern's proposals are anything but "rigorous." It's so bad, the Billings Gazette Editorial Board wrote an editorial titled "Get rid of the Public Service Commission" (May 13), suggesting abolishing the PSC altogether.

As for the 61% quote, that statistic is based on hydro-electric dams Montana Power Company acquired decades ago, which were subsequently purchased by Pennsylvania Power and Light post-deregulation, then re-purchased yet again by NorthWestern in 2013. Ratepayers are on their third go-round paying for these damn dams, and NorthWestern has yet to acquire any new renewable energy plants. It just wants to buy Colstrip's aging Unit 4 for a dollar, then charge clean-up and remediation costs to rate-paying "suckers" while continuing to burn dirty coal.

Regarding Clawson's outreach with the Chamber of Commerce, he's seemingly unaware that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is on the list of "Worst of the Worst" climate wreckers. From a Nation Magazine article (Aug. 30, 2018, "The Climate Wrecking Industry and How to Beat It"), author Jason Mark wrote, "Earning a dishonorable mention is the Republican Party, which continues to drink the Kool-Aid of climate denial and to obstruct even the most modest measures to protect the climate. Also on the list is the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which has spearheaded much of the opposition from business groups as a whole."

350 Montana's website ( shows a different community outreach by Clawson; monitoring environmentalists. Click videos, then June 2019 listing May's net-metering hearings. Clawson's in video 19. He's also in our video "Why is NW E afraid of kids?" about 1.5 minutes in, taken last September at Earth's worldwide "Strike for the Climate." NorthWestern security called police on several young children for requesting dialogues with NorthWestern representatives about their livable futures inside NorthWestern's building. They were denied entrance, and the Missoula Police Department was called. Watch it; it's shameful.

Clawson also attended February's Climate Smart Wilma event, when Dr. Rob Davies (professor of physics, Utah State), schooled everyone on climate apocalypse. Clawson left furtively, just before the lights came up.

Stop the hypocrisy. Deniers purport to care about childcare or housing, but this "caring" is totally belied by denial of the true threat to children's livable futures, the climate cancer from burning fossil fuels that's consuming our dying planet, and accelerating deadly zoonotic viruses. Republicans represent greed, corporate profit and climate denialism. So get registered, vote for Democrats, and vote all down-ballot races. This election and this decade are critical, determining your children's future quality of life.

What's more important than that?

Beth Taylor Wilson is an "essential services" social worker and a member of the 350 Montana leadership team. 

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