Thursday, December 10, 2009

Forward thinking

Posted on Thu, Dec 10, 2009 at 4:00 AM

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.

Luke Seefeldt

Missoula

Friday, December 4, 2009

Stop Stupak-Pitts

Posted on Fri, Dec 4, 2009 at 10:48 AM

YWCA Missoula joins with YWCAs across the country this week in lobbying Congress to pass comprehensive health insurance reform that protects women’s health needs, including access to abortion care. We encourage Montanans to join us in calling or e-mailing our senators to advocate for women’s rights in health care reform.

The YWCA’s mission is to eliminate racism, empower women and promote peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all. To us, that mission encompasses universal health care and a woman’s right to decide what’s best for her body, her family and herself.

YWCA Missoula supports much of the current House bill (HR 3962), which passed on Nov. 7. The bill includes such laudable provisions as expanding Medicaid to all individuals under 150 percent of the poverty line; providing help to families and individuals so they can afford health care; allowing young people to be covered by their parent’s insurance until they are age 27; ending the discriminatory practice of denying coverage based on pre-existing conditions, which can include c-sections or being a victim of rape or domestic violence; capping out-of-pocket expenses; and creating a competitive public option plan.

According to the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, 180,694 women in Montana are between the ages of 15 and 44, and 21 percent of them are uninsured. Under the House bill, 59 percent of these women would qualify for the expanded Medicaid, and another 35 percent would qualify for federal subsidies to help them purchase insurance.

While much in the House bill is good, we are very concerned about the harmful effects of the Stupak-Pitts amendment, which would prohibit abortion coverage in the newly created insurance exchanges. One of the main promises of health insurance reform is that if you like the coverage you have, you can keep it. The Stupak-Pitts amendment would break that promise by requiring women seeking abortion coverage through the exchange to seek supplemental coverage. It would also prohibit the public option from covering abortion except in cases of rape, incest or saving the life (not the health) of the mother. Also, women who receive federal subsidies to help them purchase insurance would be prohibited from buying a plan that covers abortion.

As advocates for women’s rights on every level, the YWCA believes health care reform must address, not restrict, women’s health care needs. Women should be able to purchase the health insurance plan that works best for them and their families. Please join us this week in lobbying Congress for meaningful health care reform that respects women’s rights.

Cindy Weese and Caitlin Copple

YWCA Missoula

Missoula

Tester stonewalls

Posted on Fri, Dec 4, 2009 at 10:45 AM

Friends of the Bitterroot (FOB), with over 700 members, has 21 years of blood, sweat and tears (not to mention many thousands of dollars) invested in protecting wildlands on the nearby Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest. FOB and other local conservation groups were excluded from the self-selected Beaverhead-Deerlodge “partnership” and from the making of Sen. Jon Tester’s logging/recreation bill that adopts the exclusionary partnership proposal.

The wildlands we locals and others helped protect for years are being used as political trading-stock by a few, mostly more-distant, well-staffed collaborationist conservation groups and timber companies.

After trying to improve Tester’s bill through meeting with staff, there is no indication that any of the thoughtful comments have been heard let alone taken into consideration.

Disenfranchising stakeholders is unhealthy politics. But the main issue is Tester’s bill removes protections for far more wildland than it protects as wilderness.

Oddly, as a long-time critic, I find myself defending U.S. Forest Service management policy. They are tasked to use science and open public process that does not depend on who you are “friends of.” You just need to be a citizen of America.

Tester’s logging bill legislatively overrides the prerogatives of scientific management by the Forest Service. It does so primarily to advance the interests of local commercial and recreational interests. It mandates huge increases of taxpayer-subsidized, unsustainable logging, even when there is no market. It locks in motorized use permanently in some areas—no matter the costs to wildlife, land or water.

Is Montana so jaded with wildland we would trade Sen. Lee Metcalf’s Wilderness Study Area legacy for yet another motorized playground? Is military training helicopter landings and sheep-herding with ATVs in wilderness an oxymoron? Do we really want to promote the devolution of our national public forests into state or local fiefdoms managed differently all across America depending on local politics and commercial interests? Wilderness is an ancient, irreplaceable legacy far too valuable to trade for perishable pork sausage even when seasoned with a bit o’ wino (wilderness in name only).

Larry Campbell

Darby

Lots of gobbledygook

Posted on Fri, Dec 4, 2009 at 10:42 AM

So there’s no room for progressive radio in Missoula, huh? (see “Radio ruckus,” Nov. 12, 2009). Why does any talk radio station have to be all conservative or all liberal?

If we allow right-wing talk radio to be the only voice, then we risk becoming a bastion of hatred like the Flathead Valley. I was raised in formerly moderate Kalispell and I don’t even want to drive through there now. My mother, once a nice Goldwater Republican, morphed into one of the rabid right-wingers starting when John Stokes took over KGEZ (now financially, as well as morally, bankrupt).

It’s been insidious ever since President Reagan eliminated the Fairness Doctrine, effectively unleashing one-sided gobbledygook without any answering gobbledygook to keep people from tilting too far one way or the other.

I agree with Aaron Flint on one thing: “You can get out of your Toyota Prius for just a second, just get mad…or you can just sit and whine about it.” But instead of whining don’t call Flint’s program, which still gives them the last word. Instead, fight back like Steve Corrick did. If you’re an advertiser, pull your ads. If you’re a supporter of progressive—or even balanced—radio, notify the station’s advertisers that they won’t have your patronage until they stop. Station Marketing Manager Steve Lindahl understands money, so exercise free speech by talking to his pocketbook.

Tell these one-sided, unfair, unbalanced broadcasters to pack up their Hummers and get out of Dodge!

Wanda LaCroix

Arlee

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