By Evelyn Pyburn

As a concern to the future of the planet, research on global warming is on-going. Despite the politics of it and the media’s contention that it is a proven phenomenon, it is not. Much costly research has yet to be done and imposing that burden on any single business as a condition to do business is to essentially deny the business to exist. Regulations meant to assure safe and environmentally sound operation of a business were not meant to place such an extreme burden as a condition for permitting.

A district court judge to insert a demand into regulatory law that a Montana business must take on research that would demonstrate that their activity would not impact the climate is an unreasonable expectation. As a result of such a court decision the Montana Legislature has passed HB 971 which Gov. Greg Gianforte has signed into law, that will prohibit the state – agencies like the Montana Department of Environmental Quality —from considering climate impacts in analyzing large projects such as coal mines and power plants.

The proposed legislation was by far the most controversial environmental legislation with those opposed citing polls of what people believe, rather than fundamental evidence that human beings are impacting climate conditions on the planet.

The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Josh Kassmier, R-Fort Benton, introduced the legislation in response to a 13th District Court Judge Mike Moses ruling revoking the permitting on NorthWestern Energy’s  gas plant at Laurel, which has been strongly challenged by the Montana Environmental Information Center.

Kassmier said that his bill “underscores that it’s lawmakers, not judges,” who set the state’s policies. Supporting the legislation were Treasure State Resources Association and the Montana Petroleum Association, who called the court’s decision as an “unworkable” mandate to measure greenhouse gas emissions and that it belong in federal regulations such as the Clean Air Act.


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