Energy Montana Politics

Potpourri: energy, some hate and some polls

Monday action in Butte

Folks will be gathering in Uptown Butte to rally for clean energy. It starts at 11 a.m. Monday, Oct. 10, at Emma Park  (South Dakota and W. Porphyry) and moves up to the corner of W. Park and Main streets, in front of NorthWestern Energy corporate headquarters.

Here’s the reason for the rally, from 350 Missoula spokesman Jeff Smith:

The company has recently proposed spending $1.3 billion on 13 new natural gas generators. Once built, the Montana Public Service Commission will let the company run its generators until the initial investment plus a “reasonable” profit is recovered. But this profit comes at an unreasonable expense to the citizens of Montana. Our top industries, not to mention our way of life, need cold water and deep snowpacks, both of which are rapidly disappearing.

That, and the fact that NorthWestern stymies development of small-scale solar and wind projects, certainly seems to justify this action. Details here.

There are “Christians” and then there are Christians

He has avoided the subject during most of his campaign for governor. From the Associated Press:

Religion plays a central role in the life of Greg Gianforte … but it’s a topic that the Bozeman entrepreneur and philanthropist declines to speak about at this stage.

One might expect a religious man to support the relocation of refugee families from war-torn countries. It’s the Christian thing to do. Apparently it’s not Gianforte’s brand of Chritianity, although it does make for good political fodder. Gianforte is continuing his onslaught on refugees with mailings and a TV spot, depicting them as terrorists bent on a Montana jihad.

I wish I could link to the commercial, but I can’t find it anywhere (a little help?). Montana clergy have seen it, though, and penned a letter to the Montana media:

“On behalf of thousands of Montanans of faith, we find your stand against refugee families surprising and discomforting,” the letter, which was released Thursday, states in its opening sentence.

“Instead of inviting a conversation about the truths of war, you turned war into a political attack in order to score points in an election,” the letter states. “When almost every major paper in the state editorialized against the mailer you released with similar imagery, you continued to stand on the backs of some of the most vulnerable people in the world a few weeks later when you released this TV ad with the same sentiment.”

Here’s a Great Falls Tribune story and here’s more from the Missoulian. In fact, Gianforte got a little testy when the Missoulian editorial board asked for details on his plan to keep refugees out:

“I’m not playing this game with you,” he told a reporter and members of the Missoulian editorial board on Thursday, pounding the table in response to persistent questioning about the details of his position. “I’ve been very clear. Montanans’ safety is at risk and I will protect it and my opponent will not.”

Also spreading the hate 

In Missoula on Tuesday, Oct. 11, at the DoubleTree, ACT! for America is holding a public, anti-refugee event. It’s the Lake County chapter of ACT! that’s sponsoring the event.

I’ll bet the Native American community up there is thrilled to have an ACT! chapter in its midst.

The Southern Poverty Law Center says ACT! “has grown into far and away the largest grassroots anti-Muslim group in America.”

You can catch the Lake County ACT!ors sowing their Islamophobia starting at 6:30 p.m. The Doubletree is located on the north end of the Madison St. Bridge. You can’t miss it. Look for the folks outside with the anti-hate signs.

I wish I could trust the polls

Congressional candidate Denise Juneau released a poll showing her closing the gap with incumbent Ryan Zinke. She’s within three points, 42-45, with a 4.9 percent margin of error. The Libertarian candidate drew three percent and nine percent were undecided. Flathead Memo does some analytics.

Harstad Strategic Research, which tends to work for the left side of the aisle, conducted the polling.

I’m hoping it’s accurate but having recently looked at Real Clear Politics, a site that does aggregate national polling, I’m just not sure. The presidential spread is around eight points: Clinton up by six in one poll, Trump up by two in another (although one has to wonder which all-white, angry Orange County suburb the L.A. Times/USC pollsters are calling).

Update: Zinke released his own poll which has him up by 11 points. Moore Information, which works the right side of the aisle, conducted the poll. Flathead Memo, again, has more info.

So there you have it.



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  • FYI – When or what legislature would likely eliminate the federal tax credits and subsidies for solar and wind power production and leave us with abandoned wind mills throughout our state. Also, what about the landowners no longer getting money for surface right leases on their land where these now defunct dinosaurs would sit.

    Renewable energy subsidies totaled $16 billion dollars last year.

    But others say it’s time to let this subsidy die, for it’s skewing electricity markets, hurting other power producers and not delivering on its promise of jobs.

    On rare occasions this year, during “off-peak” hours of low consumption, wholesale electricity prices have actually fallen below zero on the spot market, with wind power producers paying suppliers to buy their power so projects can continue to collect the subsidy.

    They might pay the “buyer” $5 per mwh to accept the power, but they still make $17 per mwh because of the subsidy.

    And on a final note, Nevada starts to pull the plug on solar subsidies.

    For years, Nevada taxpayers have spent millions subsidizing homeowners who install rooftop solar panels – but that’s about to end. In a controversial decision, the state is phasing out that subsidy over the next 12 years.

    • “Abandoned wind mills,” you say. Just show me one, anywhere.

      The contradictions in your comment are overwhelming. So we can subsidize coal, oil and natural gas but not clean energy?

      Also, some links might improve your argument. A quick google of energy subsidies reveals which providers are getting the most in subsidies. And none of the fossil fuel subsidies factor in the cost environmental degradation and climate change. A link for your claim that wind power producers are paying off energy suppliers would also be useful, as would one for your statement that alternative energy development isn’t creating jobs.

      A more in depth discussion on Nevada’s solar subsidy would be good, too: cost/benefit ratios, customer satisfaction, reductions in carbon dioxide and methane emissions.

      • Pete, I will admit you have some good questions and points so see the links below. So the question comes down to Obama’s executive order for the coal initiative as being way to restrictive. Apparently so as Trump will overturn as soon as he gets in office, that is if he does. If not the coal industry is history. Guess what this will do to electricity rate for our country and our economy.

        • I was probably overreaching in my comment regarding the coal industry will be history as we will continue shipping coal to China as we do with our iron ore for steel making. Is this the direction we want to continue?

        • ” … “we will continue shipping coal to China as we do with our iron ore for steel making. Is this the direction we want to continue?” Not at all. What do you suggest as an alternative?

          Anyway, as I understand it, the subsidies are to get the wind turbines and solar systems started, then tend to go away after they’re established. I have no problem with that.

          But, ahhh, the Internet. Something for everyone: from the alternative energy-bashing coal industry blogs to Koch brothers’ sponsored sites.

          The Fox story you link to on solar subsidies opened with a commercial paid for by the Petroleum Institute. Coincidence?

          I’ll leave you with this from the National Geographic:

          “Wind is a clean source of renewable energy that produces no air or water pollution. And since the wind is free, operational costs are nearly zero once a turbine is erected. Mass production and technology advances are making turbines cheaper, and many governments offer tax incentives to spur wind-energy development … the wind energy industry is booming. Globally, generation more than quadrupled between 2000 and 2006. At the end of last year, global capacity was more than 70,000 megawatts. In the energy-hungry United States, a single megawatt is enough electricity to power about 250 homes. Germany has the most installed wind energy capacity, followed by Spain, the United States, India, and Denmark. Development is also fast growing in France and China.

          Industry experts predict that if this pace of growth continues, by 2050 the answer to one third of the world’s electricity needs will be found blowing in the wind.”

  • Pete, most people who aren’t a member of ACT probably wouldn’t be thrilled that they have a chapter up here on the rez, but most people don’t know about ACT.

    But ACT is nothing new up here — same folks different hat. There’s been racists on the rez ever since the federal government opened the land to nonmember homesteading. And when I moved up her 26 years ago, we had ACE (All Citizens Equal) fomenting dissension. They’ve been fighting tribal sovereignty and tribal projects for almost 50 years. Much bigger story than a few anti-islam wingnuts from up here holding a rally in Missoula.

    • I’m aware of the ongoing racism on the reservation. I’ve watched it for years. I’m just not thrilled that these ACT! assholes are exporting their hate to my town. We already have plenty and don’t need anymore.

      • You know Pete , folks up here on the rez are far more worried about off-rez outfits like PEER (whose racist members) derailing projects like the tribe regaining control of the National Bison Range, than about a few Missoulian’s butthurt over a few local racists heading down 93 to whip up the Zoo’s fear.

        And after PEER, we’ve got local, off-rez, groups like Concerned Citizens of NW MT and ALC funding the movement of CERA (ACT’s alter ego) activists to the rez to fight tribal sovereignty for water rights issues like irrigation, water and power production.

        So yeah, you can beat up on the rez for harboring ACT activists, but those activists and organizations are all a product of off-rez funding and organizing, much of which has come from Missoula. ACT is just another sock puppet for much of the racist activities originating in, and funneling through, Missoula. You wonder why there is such disdain on the rez for Missoula? It’s because of all the self-centered BS we see going on there.

        • Please do more to speak for all the people on and off the reservations about what their priorities should be. It’s really refreshing to have a voice with all the answers explaining these things to the rest of us.

          Speaking for others has never gone wrong before, has it?

          • I didn’t speak for anybody, definitely not “all the people”, nor did I tell anybody what their priorities should be. That’s your strawman. Just letting Pete know that many of us up here on the rez look at things differently than folks in Missoula.

        • Perhaps, JC, I should have been more aggressive in pointing out the irony in my line, “I’ll bet the Native American community up there is thrilled to have an ACT! chapter in its midst,” you know, white folk on an Indian reservation complaining about immigrants.

          I think you’ve misinterpreted my post. I would never “beat up on the rez for harboring ACT activists.” Those assholes are everywhere. Nor would I ignore the off-rez hate groups fighting tribal sovereignty. I’ve written about these issues before, about PEER, about the PSC and GOP trying to stop the water pact, etc., and will continue to do so.

          I don’t see how protesting Islamophobia in Missoula diminishes the racist issues confronting the tribes in the least. I certainly don’t see it as “self-centered bullshit.” I’m simply informing people of an event that’s timely and relevant to the contentious Missoula refugee situation. No need to read anymore into it than that.

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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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