Lawmakers Mull Global Warming Recommendations

By Beacon Staff

HELENA – Lawmakers chipped away at global warming recommendations again Monday, giving a nod to some of the less controversial items coming out of a task force appointed by Gov. Brian Schweitzer.

The legislative Environmental Quality Council agreed to tackle legislation that promotes, with minimal expenditure, the use of local food, recycling and energy efficiency programs.

The decision follows previous meetings where the panel carved out recommendations that failed to gather the bipartisan support needed to adopt committee legislation.

The committee is now working with a pared down list of about a dozen broad areas for them to consider tackling — far fewer than the 54 recommendations that came from the governor’s Climate Change Advisory Committee. Gone are items dealing directly with carbon emissions, standards on cars and off-road vehicles, and other ideas that scored lower in a public survey sought by the panel.

The panel carved out even more recommendations Monday.

Proposals to increase public transportation with significant state investment and to provide more incentives for community transit failed to gather the council’s support. Some say people are too accustomed to driving in cars to change those habits.

“We have a national transportation system based around individual travel,” said Sen. Bob Story, R-Park City.

Some of those failed ideas could, and likely will, surface later as legislation from an individual lawmaker. The committee meets again Tuesday and could add more items to its list of proposals for recommended legislation.

The Environmental Quality Council has been focusing on ideas that it can endorse as a panel and as part of a committee bill which often faces an easier time at the Legislature that meets in January.

The ideas adopted by the panel Monday will now be turned into legislation, which will be put out for public comment in advance of the committee’s September meeting.

Most of the recommendations in the climate change report would require adoption by the 2009 Legislature. A few minor changes can be implemented by Gov. Brian Schweitzer, who has said he is uncertain if he can support all the recommendations.

Overall, the measures aim to reduce greenhouse gases in Montana to 1990 levels by 2020.

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