Members of Montana’s 65th Legislature are considering two very different paths for the future of clean energy in our state. One of these is Senate Bill 32: the Repeal Community Energy Requirements Act, sponsored by Senator Keith Regier, (R-Kalispell). If passed this bill would be a huge setback to clean energy in Montana!
Bill: Senate Bill 32 – Repeal Community Energy Requirements Act
Status: Passed out of committee by 7-5 vote; Up for hearing on Senate Floor
MT Audubon Position – Oppose
The bill seeks to undermine clean energy development by changing a law that requires utilities to purchase a small portion of their energy from Community Renewable Energy Projects (CREPs). These are projects that must be majority owned by Montana individuals or businesses and less than 25 megawatts in size. This CREPs provision is designed to create jobs across the state and spur economic development while also putting clean energy onto the grid.
Unfortunately, members of the Senate Energy Committee voted along partisan lines to end this requirement. We expect the bill to be taken up by the entire Senate as soon as today. Please call your local state Senator and let them know that you oppose Senate Bill 32 because you support Montana’s Community Renewable Energy requirements and strongly encourage NorthWestern Energy to support clean energy in Montana’s communities. Find your Senator by following the the link below. Your phone calls really do make a difference!
The second energy bill provides a path for Montana that supports a growing clean industry sector, incentivizes investments in our state, and creates good-paying clean energy jobs. A bill by Representative Daniel Zolnikov (R-Billings) will help Montana move in that direction.
House Bill 34 would increase the net metering size cap for government entities from 50 to 250 kilowatts. If passed, it means that counties and cities, schools and universities, state agencies and tribes would all be able to invest more in solar energy projects, creating jobs for Montanans and helping grow the state’s clean energy sector. This bill has bipartisan support and we hope it will pass out of committee soon and be up for a vote on the House floor. Please help make sure this bill succeeds by contacting representatives of the House Energy, Technology, and Federal Relations (FRET) Committee and telling them to Vote Yes on HB 34 and to increase the cap on renewable energy projects.
Bill: House Bill 34 – An Act to Increase Renewable Energy Net Metering Cap
Status: Committee vote happening soon
MT Audubon Position – Support
House Energy, Technology, and Federal Relations Committee
Rep. DENISE HAYMAN (D-Bozeman)–Vice Chair
Rep. DEREK SKEES (R-Kalispell)–Vice Chair
Rep. DANIEL ZOLNIKOV (R-Billings)–Chair
Hunting is a cherished tradition in the state of Montana, and most Montanans adhere to the concepts of fair chase and ethical pursuit of game animals. However, a bill sponsored by Rep. Jedediah Hinkle (R-Belgrade) seeks to erode Montana’s ethical hunting laws by making it easier shoot game animals without leaving a vehicle.
Senate Bill 91, which we have named The Hunting From a Vehicle Act would make it legal to for a hunter to fire from the seat of their truck as long as their feet are touching the ground. We see this bill as creating issues for hunter safety as most accidents occur close to vehicles, and support Montana’s continued adherence to long-established principles of fair chase and respect for wildlife.
Fair chase hunting is defined as the ethical and lawful pursuit and taking of a wild animal in a manner that does not give the hunter an improper advantage over such animals. We believe that hunting from a vehicle erodes the concept of fair chase in Montana and this bill should be opposed. This bill will likely be up for a committee vote this week, so please consider making a phone call to a Senator on the Fish and Game Committee (see list below). Tell them to vote NO on Senate Bill 91 because you oppose hunting from vehicles and the erosion of fair chase principles in Montana.
Bill: Senate Bill 91 – Hunting From a Vehicle Act
Status: Committee vote happening soon.
MT Audubon Position – Oppose
Senate Fish and Game Committee
Sen. JENNIFER FIELDER (R-Thompson Falls)–Chair
Sen. JEDEDIAH HINKLE (R-Belgrade)–Vice Chair
Sen. MIKE PHILLIPS (D-Bozeman)–Vice Chair
As the third week of the 2017 legislative session wraps up, we are already fighting some bad bills and doing all we can to support good ones that may not have enough votes to make it out of committee. We are busy preparing for the potential onslaught of bad bills still to come – these include threats to public lands, decreased funding for fish and wildlife programs, and attempts to undermine our bedrock environmental protections.
If you have ever wanted to be more involved at your state capitol, or have a particular issue you want to advocate for, we invite you to contact us about the issues that matter to you and how you can help in our efforts. From making phone calls, to testifying on bills, to lobbying your representatives in the hallways of our state capitol building, we have a number of ways for you to get more involved in these crucial times.
It’s been a long time since the threats to our wildlife and natural environment have been so real. We will be working overtime to advocate as effectively as we can for those things Montana Audubon supporters value, and we believe we can be even more effective with your help. In addition to all the traditional ways we ask for your support, please consider joining us at the capitol (we promise it’s a good time!) and becoming part of our cadre of supporters who want to join us in our advocacy work in Helena. Whether you live nearby or are just passing through, we’d love to hear from you about the issues you care about and how can help our efforts in the coming months…starting today!
If interested, please let us know. No legislative experience required! We’ll work together to determine the best way to use your experience and talents to benefit Montana’s wildlife and environment. Contact Amy ([email protected]) or Dan ([email protected]) or call our office 406.443.3949 and let us know you want to be more involved with our legislative efforts! When we can pack a room full of supporters and generate phone calls about important issues, we make a real difference in the votes of our elected officials.
Important Legislative Websites:
If you haven’t marked it on your calendars yet, please plan to join us at the capitol in Helena at 12 pm on Monday (Jan. 30th) for a PUBLIC LANDS RALLY! There are very real threats to public lands on the horizon, so please come show your support and let our elected officials know that we will defend our public lands and natural heritage! It is critical that we generate substantial turnout at this event to get our message across!