Montana Audubon

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

Legislative Action Alert: March 25, 2019

We are now in week 12 and you can sense the urgency at the capital to be finished early. This hasn’t stopped our elected officials from introducing almost 100 revenue and appropriations bills in just over a week, which all need be transmitted to the next chamber by April 1st or they effectively fail. We hope with this deadline approaching, and March 25th having been the last day to introduce revenue bills, appropriation bills, and bills proposing referenda, that we will be able to sense an end to the legislative chaos.

Even so, we still need to stop the “Wolf Bounty” bill (HB 279), both Sage-grouse bills (SB 299 and HB 752), NorthWestern Energy’s Blank Check bill (SB 331), and a bad bison bill (HB 332) — which has been vetoed the last three sessions. We do have one bill this week that we can support with gusto, SB 245. Known as C-PACE, SB 245 would provide business owners and agricultural producers access to 100% upfront financing to make energy efficiency and renewable energy improvements to their properties. We hope that you can help us finish out the session strong. Please, we can’t say it enough, call or email your legislators and tell them to support conservation. There are just a few weeks left. And as always, we are happy to answer your questions.

Amy and Wyatt


Help Us Stop the Wolf “Bounty Bill”

House Bill 279, introduced by Representative Bob Brown (R-Thompson Falls), would allow licensed trappers to trap wolves and then be reimbursed with private money for costs incurred during harvest. This bill amounts to a bounty on wolves, commercializes wildlife, and won’t solve elk or wolf management challenges. Wolves are a valuable native wildlife species with a liberal yet well-regulated harvest season. Reimbursing trappers for costs incurred is a slippery slope and bounties have no place in Montana.

Let the Senate Fish and Game Committee know that you will not stand for allowing private money to fund private harvesting of our public wildlife resources. Please call your nearest representative or the committee chair on the Senate Fish and Game Committee, and tell them to VOTE NO on HB 279.

There will likely going to take a committee vote on this bill on Tuesday, March 26.

Bill: House Bill 279- Reimburse trappers for costs incurred trapping wolves

Status: Waiting Committee Executive Action in Senate Fish and Game

Montana Audubon Position – OPPOSE

Find your Legislator

 

Senate Fish & Game

Sen. Jennifer Fielder (R-Thompson Falls)

Sen. Steve Hinebauch (R-Wibaux)

Sen. Jill Cohenour (D-East Helena)

Sen. Jason Ellsworth (R-Hamilton)

Sen. Pat Flowers (D-Belgrade)

Sen. David Howard (R-Park City)

Sen. Tom Jacobson (D-Great Falls)

Sen. Mike Lang (R-Malta)

Sen. Edie McClafferty (D-Butte)

Sen. Cary Smith (R-Billings)


Misplaced affection for predator mitigation

HB 752, introduced by Representative Bradley Hamlett (D-Cascade), opens up the Sage-grouse Stewardship Act to require the Montana Sage-grouse Oversight Team to develop predator mitigation plans if sage-grouse numbers drop 20% between years. These plans can cover entire Fish, Wildlife & Parks administrative regions, or may cover just areas surrounding active leks. If a predator mitigation plan were enacted, this bill would then allow the Fish and Wildlife Commission authority to reconsider sage-grouse hunting regulations within the area covered by the mitigation plan. This bill also creates a $500 fee paid by project proponents for compensatory mitigation consultation. Efforts spent on predator mitigation are often misplaced and expensive, diverting important resources from the primary objective of sagebrush habitat conservation.

Please call legislators on the House Fish, Wildlife & Parks Committee and tell them that this bill is a misguided effort and that they should vote no HB 752!

 

Bill: HB 752 – Revise laws related to sage grouse

Status: Hearing in Senate Natural Resource 3/27

Montana Audubon Position –OPPOSE

Find your Legislator

 

Senate Natural Resource

Sen. Jeff Welborn (R-Dillon)

Sen. Tom Richmond (R-Billings)

Sen. JP Pomnichowski (D-Bozeman)

Sen. Duane Ankney (R-Colstrip)

Sen. Dick Barrett (D-Missoula)

Sen. John Esp (R-Big Timber)

Sen. Pat Flowers (D-Belgrade)

Sen. Bruce Gillespie (R-Bethridge)

Sen. Brian Hoven (R-Great Falls)

Sen. Tom Jacobson (D-Great Falls)

Sen. Scott Sales (R-Bozeman)


A Blank Check for Dirty Fuels

 SB 331, by Sen. Tom Richmond (R-Billings), would require NorthWestern Energy customers to write a blank check to the monopoly utility. (This bill replaces the highly-controversial SB 278 with few changes)

SB 331 allows NorthWestern to purchase up to 150 megawatts more of Colstrip Unit 4, then pass through $40 million worth of operations costs for any future increased ownership in the plant to its customers. After the first $40 million in unreviewed costs, the PSC would at least have an opportunity to review operations costs for prudence–this would not include remediation and decommissioning. SB 331 is an ever-so-slightly scaled-back version of SB 278. Sen. Richmond told us he heard our cries the first time around, then reworked SB 278 to address those concerns. However, that does not mean that SB 331 is reasonable for NorthWestern customers. Customers will be on the hook for hundreds of millions of dollars of costs with no PSC oversight.

This bill is an outrageous attempt to require the PSC to pass through costs to NorthWestern customers. Costs would include NorthWestern’s Colstrip-related remediation and decommissioning costs (DEQ projects at least $700 million will be necessary for remediation), $300 million in acquisition costs, plus an 8.25% rate of return for its existing 220 megawatt share of the plant. Those costs would be set in rates for 30 years, even if the plant is no longer working.

Don’t let NWE pick your pocket. Contact your Senator today!

Bill: Senate Bill 331 – Establish the Montana Energy Security Act

Status: Passed out of Committee 9-4

Montana Audubon Position – OPPOSE

Find your Legislator

 

Senate Energy and Telecommunications

Sen. Duane Ankney (R-Colstrip)

Sen. Jason Small (R-Busby)

Sen. Mary McNally (D-Billings)

Sen. Dick Barrett (D-Missoula)

Sen. Mike Cuffe (R-Eureka)

Sen. Terry Gauthier (R-Helena)

Sen. Doug Kary (R-Billings)

Sen. Sue Malek (D-Missoula)

Sen. Mike Phillips (D-Bozeman)

Sen. Keith Regier (R-Kalispell)

Sen. Tom Richmond (R-Billings)

Sen. Russel Tempel (R-Chester)

Sen. Gene Vuckovich (D-Anaconda)


Renewable Energy Financing Improvements

SB 245, introduced by Senator Mary McNally (D-Billings), would provide business owners and agricultural producers access to 100% upfront financing to make energy efficiency and renewable energy improvements to their properties. C-PACE allows business owners and agriculture producers to start saving money on their energy bills from day one. This bill is good for Montana businesses, promotes energy independence, and immediately addresses the impacts of climate change. C-PACE financing will be repaid through long-term loans (up to 20 years) through an assessment on the property.

Please call your legislator and let them know that they should vote for SB 245 and support business owners and agricultural producers.

Bill: SB 245- Establish commercial property assessed clean energy program

Status: Passed out of Committee – heading to the floor

Montana Audubon Position – SUPPORT

Find your Legislator

 

Senate Energy and Telecommunications

Sen. Duane Ankney (R-Colstrip)

Sen. Jason Small (R-Busby)

Sen. Mary McNally (D-Billings)

Sen. Dick Barrett (D-Missoula)

Sen. Mike Cuffe (R-Eureka)

Sen. Terry Gauthier (R-Helena)

Sen. Doug Kary (R-Billings)

Sen. Sue Malek (D-Missoula)

Sen. Mike Phillips (D-Bozeman)

Sen. Keith Regier (R-Kalispell)

Sen. Tom Richmond (R-Billings)

Sen. Russel Tempel (R-Chester)

Sen. Gene Vuckovich (D-Anaconda)


County Bison Takeover

HB 332, introduced by Rep. Joshua Kassmier, would require approval by a board of county commissioners prior to wild bison or wild buffalo were released into a county. This erodes FWP authority over wildlife, and the bill is written so that prohibiting bison in a county could be enforced by a county growth policy. This would be the only instance when a growth policy has regulatory power. This bill has made it through the House and is now being heard in the Senate – Let your legislator know that we are tired of seeing this bill!

Find Your Legislator

Bill: House Bill 332 – Require county approval to relocate bison

Status: Hearing in Senate Natural Resource

Montana Audubon Position – OPPOSE

 

Senate Natural Resource

Sen. Jeff Welborn (R-Dillon)

Sen. Tom Richmond (R-Billings)

Sen. JP Pomnichowski (D-Bozeman)

Sen. Duane Ankney (R-Colstrip)

Sen. Dick Barrett (D-Missoula)

Sen. John Esp (R-Big Timber)

Sen. Pat Flowers (D-Belgrade)

Sen. Bruce Gillespie (R-Bethridge)

Sen. Brian Hoven (R-Great Falls)

Sen. Tom Jacobson (D-Great Falls)

Sen. Scott Sales (R-Bozeman)

 

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