A Legacy We Can be Proud of

Please take a minute to ask our elected officials to put a price on carbon in the budget reconciliation bill

By Robin Paone

I have lived in two houses that had coal chutes with rectangular iron doors installed in their foundations along the driveway. In the basements the old coal bins, small rooms paneled with boards, had long since been converted to other uses.

Coal used to be everywhere; it efficiently heated our homes and ushered in electrified lighting. Many years ago I picked up a few old lumps of coal hiding along the base of our coal bin/saw room and saved them as a treasure. Coal development is a legacy we can easily be proud of.

Now what though? The planet continues to heat up from pollution made by burning coal and other fossil fuels. Adding this extra carbon pollution to our air is like piling blankets onto an already warm bed with no way for the heat to escape so it just gets hotter. We know we need to make changes to protect our children’s future. But, this conflicts with our amazing energy legacy – it’s not easy.

Some elected officials are clinging to coal with the good intention of helping their constituents. Colstrip Sen. Duane Ankney recently lamented in an opinion piece “with more coal than anywhere else on Earth, Montana used to be an energy exporter.” Let’s not let things get ugly and tarnish our energy legacy. Instead remain proud but also confirm that to continue our legacy we must do what our children are telling us, build clean energy.

Montana is perfectly positioned for clean energy. We have windy and sunny plains. We are not prone to earthquakes or hurricanes. Our engineers have designed long duration energy storage solutions like Gordon Butte Pumped Storage and ViZn batteries. So basically, we live in a treasure state for clean energy.

A price on pollution is key to getting us to this future. Call it a carbon tax if you must. But, don’t let the government keep the money. Send it back to the people; give us the freedom and means to choose our own clean energy future that works for Montana. This is a nonpartisan solution that all sides can agree on.

But what about China? Simple – put a carbon tax at our border! If other countries do not price carbon then tax their exports. Will China pay us or will they choose to clean up their coal plants and keep their money? I think the latter.

Please take a minute to ask our elected officials to put a price on carbon in the budget reconciliation bill.

Robin Paone, volunteer
Citizens’ Climate Lobby

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