From the Billings Bureau …

It’s all about energy this week in the Magic City. Just follow the many links for the lowdown.

At noon on a snowy Tuesday at the county courthouse, about 50 people gathered to promote clean energy. This was in response to the Montana Energy 2016 conference being held here. Republican Senator Steve Daines kicked off the event which includes, according to the Billings Gazette:

… keynote speakers (who) will give talks, including U.S. Rep. Ryan Zinke, R-Mont., Crow Nation Chairman Darrin Old Coyote and leaders in coal, oil and gas and rail industries.

In another words, it’s a trade show for the extractive energy industries, with a slight nod toward renewables.

The Gazette is awash in energy stories. Gov. Steve Bullock had a guest editorial on the subject which held no surprises. Then there was this story on “clean coal” (yeah, right) and another one on the depressed fossil fuel markets and the industry’s depressed executives.

I’m in town on other business but was impressed when I stumbled across the rally downtown in what can only be described as really unpleasant weather. Here’s the Last Best News story on it. Organized by the Northern Plains Resource Council, the event featured a range of speakers, including Mike Mulberry, a minister from the First Congregational Church:

(Daines) talks about an all-of-the-above energy strategy, like it’s inclusive, but heads up a conference hosted and sponsored by the likes of Montana Petroleum Association, Montana Coal Council, Cloud Peak, Phillips 66, and Conoco Phillips with an obligatory nod to EverPower.

EverPower is a utility-scale wind energy company based in Pittsburg, Penn., and was involved in a panel discussion at the conference. I’m sure you’re familiar with the other players. And here’s Daines’ take on those “radical” ranchers, farmers and locals who make up the Northern Plains Resource Council, as delivered by spokeswoman Lindsey Singer:

Unfortunately NPRC has a radical agenda that is opposed to many forms of Montana energy that are responsible for high paying Montana jobs. Senator Daines is focused on promoting all forms of Montana energy and saving the Montana jobs NPRC would destroy.

One of my favorite articles was by Wade Sikorski, a rancher from Baker. He confronts Daines’ “war on coal” metaphor in a column from the Last Best News:

The more I think about it, the more I’m offended. The future is at risk, mostly because of coal, and the politicians who represent me are fighting a “war” to save coal, as if coal were a victim and the reality of global warming could be ignored without consequence.

Listening to Daines in Baker, I feel that he has lost control of his metaphor. There are no brakes on the car he’s driving. We could easily end up, as in all the other metaphorical wars we have been drafted into fighting, in a place none of us want to be. Maybe, instead of starting yet another “war,” Daines should give peace a chance.

Finally, this from the Gazette: Montana Atty. Gen. Tim Fox was at the conference, I’m not sure why although it did seem to be dominated by Republicans, of which Fox is one. He got some good press after subduing a punch-throwing drunk in the lobby of the Radisson Hotel, where the conference is being held. You can’t buy that kind of PR, especially during an election year.

UPDATE: According to a Fox spokesman, the dude who punched the attorney general called to apologize. Hat tip to the Last Best News and the Billings Gazette.





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About the author

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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