Energy Environment Montana Politics Steve Daines

Burning fossil fuels so we can burn more fossil fuels

Sen. Steve Daines is on tour, highlighting Montana’s energy sector at locations around the state.

He was recently in Laurel, reports Yellowstone Public Radio’s Jackie Yamanaka, visiting the CHS refinery. CHS produces petroleum products, mostly gasoline and diesel fuel, for CENEX stations around the country.

Daines is worried that decommissioning the coal-fired generators at Colstrip will put the hurt on CHS since the refinery uses $18 million a year in electricity to crank out petroleum products. In other words, we need to burn coal so we can continue to burn other fossil fuels.

I hope Daines gets a chance to read today’s Washington Post story about accelerated climate change and its dire consequences.

I realize that both the coal and petroleum industries pay good wages to their workers, and that tax revenue is substantial. However, since neither industry is going away in the near future, particularly petroleum, now would be a good time to act. How about aggressively crafting policy to transition jobs from fossil fuels to renewables, and explore other options for revenue streams? You know, forward thinking, getting ahead of the curve?

And here’s a thought, CHS refinery, perhaps invest some of that money in your “multimillion-dollar project under way that will increase refinery production” toward alternative sources of electricity to power your plant.

In a recent guest editorial, Montana GOP Executive Director, Tim Gould, accused Gov. Steve Bullock of supporting attempts to shut down the coal industry, which is a bit of a stretch, but he said, “Bullock isn’t just fiddling while Rome burns—he’s airdropping a load of napalm on the blaze.” Gould was referring to a supposed Montana economic meltdown if the state gets out of the coal business.

I would venture that Gould’s quote, particularly the words “burn” and “blaze,” would better fit his GOP bosses, like climate-science denier Steve Daines.

If you appreciate an independent voice holding Montana politicians accountable and informing voters, and you can throw a few dollars a month our way, we would certainly appreciate it.


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    • There are other alternatives to coal than a dam on the Yellowstone – one of the few free-flowing rivers left in the country. But you know that, Swede.

  • Democrats Obama and Bullock are ramping up biomass to “replace coal” — clearcutting our national forests, chipping and shipping them to Asia on Denny Washington’s and Warren Buffet’s railroad. I’d call that a step back into pre-coal, cave-man mentality. So much for all that carbon sequestration talk. That only applies when talking about the Amazon rainforest, I suppose.

    • Ponderosa pine only arrived in the northern Rockies a thousand years ago.

      Global warming has been accelerating since humans began setting fires to clear habitat, as a weapon or just for amusement. The Industrial Revolution and European settlement in the New World took hardwoods for charcoal then humans allowed fast-growing conifers to replace lost forests.

      Dense Douglas fir, spruce, lodgepole, ponderosa pine stands prevent aspen restoration and hardwood release while opposition to mechanical harvest rages on in the environmental community. No longer natural after a century of fire suppression Montana’s forests are building fuel loads in habitats where indigenous cultures cleared for millennia.

      Trees growing on public land are not agriculture any more than wild salmon are aquaculture. One part of a solution to forest management woes is to move the US Forest Service from the US Department of Agriculture into Interior where American Indian nations could more easily assume additional responsibilities for stewardship on public land.

      People building in or near these hazards should be denied homeowners insurance but blaming federal land managers for running out of money to protect private property while denying climate disruptions are influenced by human activity is just delusional.

      Pre-emptive burns and managed lightning-struck fires are essential to restoring balance in western ecosystems just like letting bison crop invasive grasses is to the Greater Missouri Basin.

      So, the question remains: should rewilding efforts seek to restore sustainable wild lands to Pleistocene Era conditions or let the Anthropocene lay waste desertifying precious resources changing the landscape forever leaving survivors to cleave out habitable zones forsaking native species?

      If unaffiliated voters succeed in driving from office the only Democrats who can preserve public lands and leave Republicans to their devices we are truly screwed.

  • Has anyone looked at generating power using natural gas at Colstrip? The electrical infrastructure is already there and a pipeline could be run to new natural gas generators. Colstrip could make the transition from coal to cleaner natural gas while saving jobs and the community. Coal mining could also continue playing a part in the area due to the many industrial uses like steel production and cement manufacturing….. Sadly the MT Republican politicians don’t seem to ever want any solutions to the problems faced by the people of Colstrip instead they only want to continue using Colstrip and it’s people as a political “issue” using fear mongering to win votes while NERVER offering any real solutions.

  • Please evaluate an Industrial Hemp Plan – a very coarse fiber with excellent core that easily replaces wood for paper, bags, fabric, and most certainly burnable! Laden with HIGH Protein Oils, MANY USES! Start the Movement to make MONTANA GREAT AGAIN!! and Return Roaming Bison by pushing Cattlemen OUT!! With their Chemical Ag!!

      • For the record, I do not support widespread growing of hemp, especially on tribal lands: it is an invasive species capable of overgrowing native grasses.

        Hemp is a perennial and easily migrates into adjacent lands. Why anyone would want to buy genetically engineered seed from Monsanto or some other earth hater every year remains a mystery.

        • So Larry, if Monsanto patented some killer weed seed which kept you vegetating in your mom’s basement you wouldn’t buy any?

  • Plenty of Fences Fragmenting Montana from the Great Place it Once Was! Not sure if Bison find Hemp very nutritious, they prefer the Prairie Grass and Wildflowers ONCE Abundant in Montana!

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Pete Talbot

'Papa’ Pete Talbot is first and foremost a grandfather to five wonderful grandchildren. Like many Montanans, he has held numerous jobs over the years: film and video producer, a partner in a marketing and advertising firm, a builder and a property manager. He’s served on local and statewide Democratic Party boards. Pete has also been blogging at various sites for over a decade. Ping-pong and skiing are his favorite diversions. He enjoys bourbon.

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