Montana Audubon

Montana Audubon works at the local, state and national policy levels to protect our natural heritage.

Legislative Alert- Week of 3/28/17

In the coming weeks we will be providing you with opportunities to comment on some new bills, as well as some bills that you may have already commented on. Here is what we’re working on this week:

HB 593: Protecting Montana (and the Smith River) from Metal Mines – SUPPORT

This bill would increase the bonding amount and require more frequent audits of metal mines operating in sulphide ore bodies in Montana. When exposed to air and water, a chemical process can occur with sulphide ore that leads to acid mine drainage; pollution that has damaged the water quality and aquatic life of several Montana rivers and streams. If approved, the proposed mine in the headwaters of the Smith River would be one of these operations (Save the Smith!) The bill is sponsored by Rep. Nate McConnell (D-Missoula) and did not make it out of committee, but will be blasted on to the House floor this week where all members of the House will have to vote on the bill.

Please contact your Representatives and ask them to VOTE YES on HB 593. You can call (406) 444-4800 and leave a message for your Representative or find your Representative and their contact information here. Mining companies shouldn’t be profiting from Montana’s natural resources if it means polluting our waters and leaving the taxpayers to clean up the mess! You can read more about the bill here.

Senate Bill 235: Extension of Coal Leases on State Lands – OPPOSE

Sponsored by Sen. Tom Richmond (R-Billings), this bill would allow for extension of coal leases on state lands without public input or additional environmental analysis. If it passes, the Montana Land Board could extend the date for coal leases beyond their traditional 10-year term if the Board finds it to be “in best interest of the state.” The bill does not provide for any public process, including notice and an opportunity to comment or an Environmental Impact Statement, if the Board voted to extend the lease. The State may also forego potential revenue from negotiating a new lease.

The bill is scheduled for a public hearing in on Friday, so please call 406.444.4800 and ask to leave a message for the House Natural Resources Committee. Tell them you oppose Senate Bill 235 because it’s a bad deal for taxpayers and the environment. You can also send a message here.

Eliminating Board of Environmental Review – OPPOSE

Senate Bill 337, sponsored by Sen. Duane Ankney (R-Colstrip), proposes to eliminate the Montana Board of Environmental Review (BER). The BER has oversight authority over the Department of Environmental Quality for rule-making, as well as deciding challenges to DEQ permit decisions and enforcement actions. The BER acts as an independent body that determines whether DEQ followed the law and whether rules need to be changed to help DEQ accomplish its mission to protect public health and the environment. Eliminating the BER would be a blow to the public’s right to hold DEQ accountable.

The bill is schedule for a vote on the Senate Floor this week. Please consider contacting your Senator and ask them to Vote NO on SB 337. Find your Senator here.

HJR 9:  Removes Protections for Wilderness Study Areas – OPPOSE

House Joint Resolution 9 is an anti-wilderness bill sponsored by Rep. Kerry White (R-Bozeman). This resolution calls for the end of wilderness protections for some of Montana’s most prized wilderness study areas (WSAs).  These include Hyalite-Porcupine-Buffalo Horn, West Pioneer, Blue Joint, Sapphire, Ten Lakes, Middle Fork of the Judith, and Big Snowies Wilderness Study Areas.  This bill would undermine years of collaborative work by Montanans and would potentially open these landscapes to increased logging, mining, and oil and gas development. Many of the groups supporting this bill in committee were representatives of resource extraction industries seeking access to these wild places.

The resolution is scheduled for a vote in the Senate Natural Resources Committee soon, so please send a message to the committee and ask them to vote NO on House Resolution 9!

You can also call 406.444.4800 and ask to leave a message for this committee. Read more in this article from the Great Falls Tribune.

As always, thanks for your support!  We’re more effective when we work together….Go, Fly, Win!

If you have any questions about what’s going on in Helena, please get in touch with Amy ([email protected]) or Dan ([email protected]) or call our office @ 406.443.3949. We’d love to hear from you.

Important Legislative Websites:

Montana State Legislature website

Find your Legislator

Online message form

Find a Bill

Live at the Legislature

House Committee Assignments

Senate Committee Assignments

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