The guest editorial in the Missoulian a few days ago by Tim Gould, executive director of the Montana Republican Party, is so far from the truth that I hope he’s wearing asbestos underwear.
Gould thinks that Colstrip’s future is in jeopardy because of some capricious liberal hate of “anything and everything to do with coal.” More likely, it’s about the Economics 101 basic premise of supply and demand. The demand for coal is dwindling, ergo, the supply side is dwindling, too.
The good folks in Oregon and Washington are thinking that maybe coal isn’t the best way to generate electricity. Cheap natural gas, a shift to renewables and a real concern about climate change is behind this wisdom, and the cheap, dirty coal from Eastern Montana used for decades to produce power is taking a hit.
So Gould is suggesting we abandon the GOP’s vaunted free market principles and somehow prop up the coal industry.
And then there’s this bit of fiction: Arch Coal Company is backing out of coal mining at Montana’s Otter Creek because of some nefarious Democratic plot. Gould fails to mention that Arch recently filed for bankruptcy protection. In the face of decreased demand for coal, Arch isn’t going to expand its coal mining operations (although it did manage to pay its top executives $8 million in bonuses the day before filing for bankruptcy, but I digress.)
One solution Gould offers as a way to help Colstrip is for Washington Gov. Jay Inslee to veto that state’s Senate Bill 6248. The bill, which passed 42-7, is to set up a fund to pay for the eventual decommissioning of Colstrip Units 1 and 2. Gov. Steve Bullock should demand that Inslee veto the bill, says Gould.
I’m sure a Washington politician is going to go against the wishes of his constituency, and the majority of Washington lawmakers, to do the bidding of the Montana GOP mouthpiece.
The reason Gould brought up Inslee and Bullock is because the Washington governor was visiting our governor last week and the two were involved in some fundraising for Democratic Governors Association. Gould describes this as “dark-money fundraising.” It is not. You can find all contributions and expenditures listed here. The Republicans have a similar “527” organization. It should be noted that in Montana nine Republican lawmakers were investigated in 2015 for illegal campaign practices. One of those, state representative Art Wittich, has a corruption trial starting at the end of this month before the Montana Supreme Court.
People in glass houses …
Gould is only two months into his job as Montana GOP executive director. If this fabricated opinion piece of his is a preview of upcoming political discourse, it’s going to be a long, skanky campaign season.