With Democrats like these, who needs Republicans?

This week in Missoula, Sunrise Movement organizers, with other youth and supporters, visited Jon Tester’s office.

Coming of age post Reagan, in a world where Democrats scampered to the middle eventually leaping off to the right, my college friends and I would quip, “With Democrats like these, who needs Republicans?” We were not political purists. We lived in a time where working across the aisle could still occur–it occurred all the time in communities and neighborhoods–people hadn’t fully embraced the sports-team model of political identity. 

We were interested in solutions first, and many politicians across the political spectrum seemed to be as well. But the writing was on the wall, Republicans were super organized, more and more ideology-bound, and they had money behind them, walloping Democrats. So Democrats shifted their messages to accommodate the new landscape. I’m not astute enough to know if that was inevitable, or the right thing to do at the time, but now, as old-guard Republican leaders shore up their allegiance to dark money, corporations, and oligarchs, it is clear that the only choice for Democrats is to return to their roots: fighting for “we the people” that make up a democracy. They are called to bring a clear message of justice forward for the masses, and fight for healthcare, education, solid employment under safe conditions, and into the mix, Democrats are called (as are we all) to lead on climate.

If Montana’s Democrat leaders, specifically Governor Bullock and Senator Jon Tester, are truly informed on the science and grasp the impacts, they shouldn’t hesitate to lead. In fact they have a moral duty to lead, a duty to use their “platform” to communicate the frightening truth about how the global climate crisis will impact our state. The science is concrete and very urgent. According to the 2017 Montana Climate Assessment, Montana is heating up faster than what is predicted globally or nationally. Montana is on a fast track to changes that will dramatically impact not only fishing and hunting conditions, but many of Montana’s vitally important industries such as agriculture and tourism. We will also see huge impacts on public health and safety as Montana families and communities face more frequent heat waves, wildfire, and wildfire smoke.

Here are a few ways that Governor Bullock and Senator Tester could lead on climate:

Bullock and Tester can begin by turning their backs on fossil-fuel money and sign the No Fossil Fuel Money pledge, a call-to-action championed by the Sunrise Movement. They could also explore how the framework of the Green New Deal Resolution (PDF) could work in our state for the economic and social gain of regular Montanans.

Next, Bullock and Tester could withdraw their support for the Keystone XL pipeline. Here is another opportunity for them to tell the truth. The truth is that the Keystone XL pipeline project is owned by Canadian company TC Energy which seeks to transport tar-sands oil (very dirty and polluting when it spills) over American soil (making around 1,000 water crossings, including traversing the Ogallala aquifer, which irrigates our heartland and is already threatened by climate change) to send it to the Gulf of Mexico for EXPORT out of our country into other markets. The harsh truth is that this pipeline contributes nothing toward American energy independence, but it will put our water and lands at risk every day. In Montana, it would threaten Fort Peck’s water supply, and the Missouri River as a whole.

Montanans need to ask: Why would we endanger our water supply, and that of our fellow Americans, for a Canadian-owned company? Keystone XL endangers our water and land, with little benefit to us.

Then, Governor Bullock and Senator Tester could step up and use their platform — and perhaps the Governor’s Montana Climate Solutions Council? — to create a solid vision for a fossil-free Montana, unpacking the amazing potential of renewables here, and envisioning Montana as a solar and wind powerhouse. This roadmap could show how we can transform our energy sector, moving away from dirty, unreliable energy like coal plants, toward clean, reliable energy in a market that creates jobs for Montanans, and helps to limit our exposure to expensive and dangerous climate impacts.

Many Montanans want Bullock and Tester to muster courage and act, becoming the leaders that they signed up to be. Many Montanans understand the global climate crisis, and more and more are waking up to the fact that political sports teams do not solve problems–especially existential problems like the climate crisis which now threatens a livable future for their kids.

Help support good leadership on climate in Montana

If you would like to help Governor Bullock, Senator Tester, and the rest of the federal delegation understand that Montanans stand opposed to Keystone XL and want a fossil-free future, please sign this petition being gathered by Families for a Livable Climate, to share with their staff in early 2020.

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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About the author

Winona Bateman

Winona Bateman is a concerned Montana voter, founder of Montana group Families for a Livable Climate, wife, and mother to Ellis, who she hopes has a livable future.


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  • Some KXL basics.

    Most of the non polar solvent dissolved bitumen pumped thru Montana in KXL would be owned by and pipelined to the largest refinery in the USA.
    That’s the Motiva refinery.
    Which is a shell wholly owned by ARAMCO,
    which if course wholly owned by the government of Saudia Arabia. Which is controlled by the House of Saud under Mohammed bin Salman.
    ARAMCO IPO offer begins November 17, 2019.

    Only one of the proposed KXL pump stations has to impel dilbit up a tall, steep hill.

    That pump station would be at the base of the 600′ tall hill,
    immediately below Fort Peck Dam.

    Unlike other KXL pump stations, the Fort Peck Pump Station would discharge pressure of 1600 psi. All the other proposed KXL pump stations would discharge 1300 psi.
    All KXL pump stations would receive line pressure of about 300 pounds pressure per square inch.

    Of course KXL would have no external leak detectors.

    Of course the KXL emergency, all season response base for Montana, would be in South Dakota.

    Of course Montana has not insisted that Montana receive pipeline inspection reports stemming from sensors on smart “pigs” that travel inside the 36″ diameter pipe and measure corrosion and pitting.

    Of course the KXL proposed would draw power from Coalstrip 111 and IV.

    Of course Governor Bullock had been notified of the above basics.

    Of course neither Montana newspapers, or Montana social media, have ever presented a foto of the proposed site of the Fort Peck Pump Station.

    Or presented an image lifted from the quality bird’s eye Google Earth views freely accessed at online Keystone Mapping Project. Go there, descend to just above the Missouri River, follow the pipeline under the wide Missouri, to the base of the tall, rocky hill, where would sit a KXL pump station. View up that rocky, tall hill. Follow the pipeline route up and up, and on to Circle Montana. Where KXL tried to build a large man camp, construction equipment site, but got stopped by District Judge Brian Morris of Great Falls.
    Of course KXL would in fact be owned by a Limited Partnership entity, which may be partially owned by the two foreign owned mega size refineries who would own solvent dissolved bitumen pumped under the lands and waters of Montana.

    Of course very few have known for years, that not drilled medium weight sweet crude oil, but carbon heavy, sour(high hydrogen) “crude” from Canada, has been making up more and more and now about all of the feedstock processed by the three refineries around Billings.

    Why live in a state of denial?

    Of course very few people will read this.

    That’s fine with me. Montana has plenty more problems to challenge and overcome.

    • Winona Bateman is dead right.
      Dissolved bitumen is deadly dirty.
      Carbon dirty in every stage from mining, processing, consumption.
      (cf. The KXL FSEIS. Final, Supplemental, Environmental Impact Statement, prepared by agents of then TransCanada.)

      Carbon dirty when carbon heavy bitumen sludge persistently pollutes stream bed bottoms. eg Kalamazoo
      And my above post phrase about hydrogen heavy is dead wrong.
      Here’s my second attempt;

      Hydrogen rich petroleum crude oil is drilled from the ground. Mostly low sulfur and called sweet.
      Heavy Sour crude from the Western Canadian Sedimentary Basin,
      is high in sulfur and called sour. And called heavy because it is heavy in heavy carbon. Problem is, its comparatively hydrogen poor.
      Processing heavy, sour crudes involves removing more carbon and sulfer, than does processing light to medium weight, sweet crude oils, but yields less combustible hydrogen.

      The first and second generation petro coker units at one of the Billings refineries were constructed to help process heavy, sour “crude” from Canada.

      Lots of blacktop in Montana is derived from Alberta bitumen.

      The end.

  • Tester has been paid big bucks to support the KXL and that is a fact. He knows the KXL is a U.S. bypass pipeline, he even supported overturning the U.S. crude exporting ban that had been in place for nearly 50 years.
    In 1999 while in Calgary I personally heard a Transcanada exec say “the most challenging aspect of the KXL project will be getting the people in the States to believe it will be good for them, while in fact it will not, in the end, benefit them in any way.” Tester has been paid to fool us all and he is leading us astray for his big money donors…..sad.

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