Daines Should Support Renewable Energy

The coal market is shrinking, replaced by cheaper natural gas

By Lowell Rathbun

Recently Sen. Steve Daines claimed two power plants in Colstrip will be shut down, blaming it on “fringe extreme environmentalist groups” etc. Montana PBS shows the real reason is the Pacific Northwest is transitioning to renewable energy. Large wind farms are springing up on the east side of the Cascades and the Columbia Gorge.

The coal market is shrinking, replaced by cheaper natural gas. Please note a large source of Daines’ campaign funds comes from the coal, oil and gas lobbies, including over $63,000 from the Koch brothers.

A responsible leader acknowledging the science would make it clear that climate change is real, urgent, and threatens our future.

The decent, hardworking people in Colstrip are not just in the coal business, but the energy business. It is a disservice to Colstrip to portray them as victims. A real leader would help Colstrip transition to a sustainable economy.

Sen. Daines, partnering with Sen. Jon Tester, could approach their Northwest colleagues to help Montana partner with the Pac Northwest in developing renewable energy for the West Coast. Key power lines, including Colstrip’s are already in place. Montana has tremendous reserves of untapped wind power.

The ramp-up of renewables can compensate the ramp-down of coal with minimal impact on the local economy. By partnering with Northwest we could gradually shut down the coal-burning power plants and build renewables. Current operators could gradually shut down and clean up the mines. Montana colleges could retrain our workers in renewable energy technologies at low or no cost to them, giving preference to those whose jobs are directly threatened.

Sen. Daines appears either unwilling or unable to speak the truth and step up to the challenge. He could serve the people of Montana better. Montana needs leaders with the vision and integrity to lead our state into the future.

Lowell Rathbun