It's nice to see Governor Bullock delegating some big responsibilities. It's an election year, you know. He must be very busy. And, in terms of addressing climate change policy for our state, I couldn't think of a better person to hand that over to than Senator Duane Ankney.
Bullock's advisory council line-up is great if the goal is to ensure that the federal government will have to step in to mandate how we will meet our obligations for carbon reduction under the Clean Power Plan. Or maybe he just wants to get a group of people together for pointless meetings since, as far as I can see, very few of the council members have an interest in addressing climate change.
Here is my own analysis of the breakdown of the appointees.
Out of 27 members, 18 of them are either directly employed by the coal industry or worked in the coal industry at some point, work for a utility with a investment in the Colstrip units, have publicly stated their opposition to the Clean Power Plan or are fossil fuel development consultants. That is two-thirds of the advisory council.
Four are women.
One is from the renewable energy industry.
One is Native American.
One is from an agricultural group.
One is under the age of 40.
Let's start with the age problem. Besides Diego Rivas, who is 34, as far as I can tell, almost all of the other appointees are in their 50s, 60s and 70s. To be completely blunt, this is a generation that will not be around to deal with many of the extreme impacts from climate change. I'm not even sure half them believe climate change is happening. How are they supposed to come up with a plan to address something they don't think is real?
I'm not saying that industry, utilities and labor shouldn't be represented on the council. They deserve to be there, they have a right to be there and their input is important. But two-thirds of the council? Seriously?
As a woman and someone who knows many qualified and smart Montana women in the energy and climate change field it is shocking to see that we make up a meager 14% of the council with only two who live in Montana. Two of those women are lawyers from utilities in Washington and Oregon that are invested in Colstrip.
This from the first state to send a woman to Congress. It's offensive.
Two bright spots for me in the list are Rex Rogers, from IBEW in Colstrip, who had a very thoughtful op-ed in the Great Falls Tribune on Monday
and Kathy Hadley
who has has been at the helm of the National Center for Appropriate Technology for 18 years and is serving as president of the Montana Wildlife Federation
. These are people who want to solve problems. I think if the Governor put them in a room they could come up with a great plan for the state of Montana.
I'm not exactly sure the political calculus Bullock and his advisors did. Do they want the feds to come in and create Montana's plan so they can act like it is the big bad federal government telling us what to do and hope he doesn't get punished in the voting booth? Possibly. He is going to receive a recommendation from this group, one that will assuredly not meet the EPA standards, and then he will have to accept or reject it.
Everyone is impacted by climate change not just the people that work in the fossil fuel industry. Governor Bullock knows what the right thing to do is and instead he is playing a political game.
We had a chance to come up with a Montana solution but it looks like politics wins again.
In times like these, I remember my favorite quote by the great American philosopher John Dewey,
" There is nothing perplexing or even discouraging in the spectacle of the stupidities and errors of political behavior. The facts which give rise to the spectacle should, however, protect us from the illusion of expecting extraordinary change to follow from a mere change in political agencies and methods. Such a change sometimes occurs, but when it does, it is because social conditions, in generating a new public, have prepared the way for it."
We have work to do folks.
The Interim Clean Power Plan Advisory Council members are:
Senator Duane Ankney
- Updated Wednesday January 7, 2016: I previously noted that there was an attorney from Bozeman who seemed to have recently moved there. I have since found out that Britt Ide is a 5th generation Montanan.
, Colstrip, MT – Senate District 20, member of the Energy and Telecommunications Interim Committee, Lead Plaintiff on the lawsuit against the power plant
for its leaking ash ponds.
, Bozeman, MT – Founder and President, Absaroka Energy, LLC. Renewable energy representative.
Hon. Kirk Bushman
, Billings, MT – Montana Public Service Commission member representing District 2
, Great Falls MT – Legislative and Project Specialist, Montana Farmers Union
, Hysham, MT – Director, Environmental & Engineering Compliance, Talen Montana (Formerly PPL Montana)
, Great Falls, MT – Executive Secretary of the Montana State AFL-CIO
, Billings, MT – Government Affairs, MDU Resources, Inc.
, Helena, MT – private consultant specializing in energy and natural resources issues, immediate past Executive Director of the Montana Petroleum Association
, Billings, MT – a small business owner with extensive natural resource and energy background - Consultant to develop energy
, Deer Lodge, MT – Executive Director of the National Center for Appropriate Technology, and President of the Montana Wildlife Federation
, Great Falls, MT – General Manager of the Central Montana Electric Power Cooperative
, Bozeman, MT – Principal, Ide Law & Strategy, LLC, private practice attorney specializing in energy, consensus-building, and innovation.
Senator Jim Keane
, Butte, MT – Senate District 38, member of the Environmental Quality Council
, Bellevue, WA – Director of Environmental Services/Assistant General Counsel, Puget Sound Energy, Inc.
, Helena, MT – private practice attorney specializing in energy issues
Chairman Darrin Old Coyote
, Crow Agency, MT – Chairman, Crow Tribe
Broomfield, CO – Senior Vice President, Marketing & Government Affairs, Cloud Peak Energy
, Absarokee, MT – Principal, Pascoe Energy Consulting, representing a broad diversity of clients in energy matters.
Senator Mike Phillips
, Bozeman, MT – Senate District 31, member of the Environmental Quality Council
, Portland, OR – Director, Governmental Affairs & Environmental Policy, Portland General Electric
, Helena, MT – Senior Policy Associate, Northwest Energy Coalition
, Butte, MT – Officer President, Montana State Building & Construction Trades Council, and International Brotherhood of Boilermakers
, Colstrip, MT – IBEW Local 1638 Business Manager
, Helena, MT – Private consultant specializing in energy issues, former three-term Montana Public Service Commissioner (2003-2006, 1977-1984)
, Spokane, WA – Manager of Corporate Environmental Compliance, Avista Corporation
, Billings, MT – Senior Advisor to the Western Organization of Resource Councils
, Butte, MT – Senior Technical Advisor/Engineer, NorthWestern Energy