Mere hours after his inauguration, President Biden signed a slate of executive orders reversing major decisions made under the Trump administration, and revoked a crucial permit for the Keystone XL pipeline.
Among the first celebrating this action were environmental groups and tribes in Montana, including the Fort Belknap Indian Community whose sacred lands are included in the pipeline’s proposed path.
At the same time, however, Montana’s Republican governor and congressional delegates were making plans to get the pipeline back on track.
Gov. Greg Gianforte issued a statement asking Biden to reconsider his order. U.S. Rep. Matt Rosendale also urged Biden to change his mind, calling the pipeline a matter of national security. And U.S. Sen. Steve Daines joined seven other senators from Western states in announcing legislation that would authorize the pipeline’s continued construction, as well as a resolution requesting that President Biden get the consent of the U.S. Senate before re-signing the United States to the Paris climate agreement.
Biden’s orders are fully in keeping with his campaign pledges to guide the nation away from fossil fuels and devote more energy to addressing climate change. The U.S. mustbe part of the Paris accord as the leading effort to tackle this global problem; the effects of climate change do not end at the borders of any one country — or state. Montanans should support these efforts. Our leaders should help us move forward toward these goals, rather than trying to keep the state mired in dependence on outdated energy sources.
After all, Montana’s pristine environment is one of its most attractive qualities, and a major economic draw. It brings in new business and workers, encourages residents to remain, and provides an unparalleled quality of life for those who love the outdoors.
Montanans have ample reason to be wary of any new proposals that put our environment at further risk. In addition to the 17 sites on the Superfund National Priorities List, with another two sites proposed, there’s the dramatically shrinking glaciers in Glacier National Park. Not to mention the decreased snowpack and warmer water putting our world-class fish populations in danger.
The Keystone pipeline will only make these problems worse.
Montana has already weathered too many pipeline spills — especially into critical waterways. Those spills cost Montana in ways no amount of financial remediation from the responsible oil companies can ever fully compensate.
Even if there were no oil spills, the pipeline’s contribution to the climate crisis would be costly enough. As the founder of Families for a Livable Climate recently pointed out, the project is expected to add “at least 181 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) each year, comparable to emissions from 51 coal-fired power plants.”
Rather than trade an irreplaceable clean environment for limited short-term economic gains, Montana should join efforts to advance sustainable energy.
This editorial represents the views of the Missoulian Editorial Board: Publisher Jim Strauss, Regional Editor David McCumber and Opinion Editor Tyler Christensen.