Montana has oil, coal, tar sands, natural gas and wind energy. We are number two in wind energy potential in the United States, and number one in coal reserves. As Montanans eye these various forms of energy we should look at what will make Montana an economically viable state in the future. Montana is at a crossroads. Climate change has huge implications for this choice.
Whether Sen. Max Baucus decides to get Montana on board with the future now or later is ultimately up to him. However, choosing coal now will hurt us in the long term. Over the next 40 years, strong climate change legislation will get passed. The temperature gauge will demand it.
When strong climate change legislation passes, the states that moved toward coal will be in for a harsh correction. Current buildup of coal coupled with future climate change legislation will result in a bubble in coal.
If the current housing crisis has taught us anything it is that bubbles are not good for the economy. The more we invest into coal the larger the bubble is going to be. We will watch the temperature climb and further our need for clean energy. We will need to abandon coal. You could call this a run on coal.
If Baucus decides to go with coal now, we will find ourselves in a harsh economic reality in the future. Knowing that fossil-fuel use will begin to wane, Montana has a choice. If we pass a weak climate bill today, build our coal infrastructure, and reap the benefits of coal energy now, we will find ourselves in trouble in the future. Coal will be phased out and Montana will have nowhere to go. It is time to look past the bridge of our nose.