I believe each one of us has the moral obligation to leave this place in as good or better shape than we found it for our kids and grandkids. That responsibility also means making sure everyone has the opportunity to succeed regardless of whom he or she loves. We're at a decisive moment in our history as Americans because we have the opportunity to achieve that equality.
For many, LGBT Pride Month is a time to reflect on the values of equality and independence. Especially the values we hold dear from the Declaration of Independence: "Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." These principles are the cornerstone of our great nation, and are what make it the envy of the world.
During Pride Month, it's appropriate to consider the ways we're working to make Montana and our nation a more just society where all can pursue happiness as they see fit, regardless of whom they choose as a partner.
While it seems that not many folks are working together in Congress, I'm proud that we passed a strong Violence Against Women Act this year. The Violence Against Women Act provides $4 million to support 50 Montana programs. And, for the first time ever, it provides protections for our LGBT community. It's time we recognize that LGBT survivors deserve equal access to these important resources.
In Montana, we believe in personal freedom. We believe the government shouldn't interfere in the people's private business. That's why I agreed to co-sponsor efforts to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act. There are more than 1,000 rights and obligations the federal government grants to married couples that same-sex couples are denied. It's time to end marriage discrimination, which is why I supported overturning the Defense of Marriage Act. Simply put: The federal government should not be interfering in the personal decision of who an adult chooses as a partner.
When it comes to the workplace, it is unacceptable for anyone to be fired simply because of their sexual orientation. The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) will help protect workers from this type of discrimination and I look forward to moving forward on this legislation in the Senate as soon as possible.
Members of the LGBT community are our neighbors, brothers, sisters and friends. They are community leaders who bring the kind of diversity to our nation that makes it strong.
We all have a role in making sure that Pride Month is not just something we check off on the calendar. "Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness" for all Americans is what we are called to strive for every day of the year.
U.S. Sen. Max Baucus
In modern America, cancer is the plague. But a far worse plague is greed.
Insidiously, greed is engendering malignancy in politics and government while, simultaneously, denaturing the Natural World. It's corrupting this republic of ours and, similarly, it's corrupting the well-being and viability of Planet Earth's eons-old but rather fragile "sufficiencies" (which are increasingly rendered insufficient by greed's idiocies and ruinousness).
Obviously, we must begin to identify and repudiate greed's most egregious and sociopathic exponents, and insist that human intelligence replace human greed as the determinant of what "rules us" as a species. If we fail in that undertaking, do we not risk becoming heirs to a catastrophic outcome that absurdly contradicts our notable achievements and our higher human promise?
Who are the greedy? And should their idiocy and incorrigibility be allowed to condemn all of us to despotism, environmental collapse and existential despair?
Human greed is implicitly at odds with a fundamental, intrinsic generosity in the universe, and should not be obeyed when it presumes to assert its preposterous, misbegotten "authority."
I recently had the opportunity to get involved with the Citizens Climate Lobby and have been exposed to many articles and videos about global warming and climate change. An article in The Guardian from May 16 by Dana Nuccitelli talked about a recent study showing that 97 percent of climate experts agree humans cause global warming. When people know scientists agree on human-caused global warming, they are more likely to support government action to curb these greenhouse gas emissions.
It’s extremely important to get educated on the issues around climate change, as we need to act now. Less than 50 percent of Americans know that scientists now agree on human-caused global warming.
Here in Montana, global warming is causing ranchers to sell off part of their herds because the grass is not there for them to eat and getting hay is very expensive. Trying to raft down the Gallatin or Madison is not as enjoyable as it use to be. Last time I went rafting, our raft kept hitting the bottom and I would have to get out and navigate the kids until we got to an area with a little more water. Water temperature is increasing, stressing the trout in our rivers, shortening fly-fishing season. Global warming is happening, and it’s affecting this beautiful state we live in and the livelihood of river guides, outfitters and even the ski resorts.
Billions of dollars are and will be spent to fight our fires. As reported by KBZK news on May 23, since 1999 over $1.1 billion has been spent battling wildfires just in Montana. We can expect a warmer and dryer June and July, which means our July-August fire season will be worse.
It is time to work at reducing the carbon emissions. We need a revenue-neutral carbon tax giving money back to each household. By doing this, it protects the low and middle class, holds the fossil fuel suppliers accountable for the damage they are doing and allows the free market to move towards clean energy.
Instead of spending billions putting out fires, we should be investing in jobs for solar, wind energy and other types of clean energy like earthship houses. Imagine putting people to work retrofitting houses and businesses for solar energy? Putting people to work and reducing our carbon footprint. Even China is getting on board to put a ceiling on greenhouse gas emissions by 2016.
We the people are the biggest contributors to global warming and climate changes. We cannot continue to consume at our current rate, the planet cannot sustain this type of growth and consumption. May 9 marked 400 ppm of carbon in the atmosphere for the first time in 3 million years.
A person may feel frozen because the task ahead is so overwhelming and they don’t know where to start. Start by calling Sen. Baucus, Sen. Tester and Rep. Daines and ask them to support a revenue-neutral carbon tax, a solution backed by conservatives like former Secretary of State George Shultz. In Bozeman, contact the local Citizens Climate Lobby through their Facebook page for more information or to get involved. There is a new group in Missoula and one starting in Billings.
If 97 percent of the climate experts agree that humans are responsible for climate change, then I am 100 percent certain that Congress needs to pass a revenue-neutral carbon tax, or they can write a blank check to FEMA and divert all funds there.
Citizens Climate Lobby
I am writing to you concerning the proposed Otter Creek Coal Mine. With changing political environments in the past few years, big industry has begun to creep into politics so extensively that individuals are losing the ability to represent themselves and each other, and decision makers can't decipher right from wrong. Let me help.
Polluting people's air is wrong. We have no choice whether or not to breathe the air around us, we cannot control its quality, nor can we clean it on our own. Everyone has the right to have clean air. Polluted air from coal causes thousands of deaths each year, not to mention other coal ash-related health issues.
Exponentially increasing greenhouse gas emissions is wrong. The coal from this mine will contribute approximately 280 million tons of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere a year. We're already seeing the detriment of global climate change each year, and significantly adding to it is unethical.
Finally, destroying water sources is wrong. Ranchers depend on this water for their cattle, as well as their irrigation. Coal mines cannot prevent heavy metal seepage into surface waters nor can they prevent coal ash pollution in water. Bioaccumulation of heavy metals also means check your fish before consuming, they could be toxic.
Allowing another outdated energy source in this state is wrong. Check the facts and listen to the individuals, not the big corporate groups just saying what you want to hear. Please let democracy work!
I am writing in response to the increasing interest in mining Otter Creek coal. It is my opinion that this development will be not only harmful to the immediate community surrounding Otter Creek, but also to the state of Montana as a whole.
Decline in the demand for coal has been fueled recently by a rise in alternate sources, such as cheaper natural gas. The environmental impacts on air quality due to emissions are causing coal power plants to be shut down; this coupled with a decline in plant production makes coal a questionable investment. The Otter Creek coal is even less desirable due to high sodium content. This means coal from Otter Creek will be destined for Asian markets.
Knowing that we will be destroying our own state to ship a product to Asia to be burned and release pollutants into the air is a disturbing thought. As Montanans we should be focused on an effort to minimize our impact on the environment, and to become leaders in setting an example for moving toward America's energy independence.
It is hard to put a monetary value to the land destroyed to access the coal, the air and water polluted to ship it overseas, and the cultural impacts of such an operation on the communities it touches. In the end it seems clear to me that the products and profits from such a venture will go to Asia, coal companies and railroads; and the bill will come to Montana.
Arch Coal, one of the biggest and richest coal companies in the world, is currently seeking a permit to rip up a pristine agricultural valley in southeastern Montana to mine the coal underneath and sell it to China. Coal markets in the United States are disappearing. Corporations looking for a fast buck are trying to ram through proposals to open the Otter Creek strip mine and expand ports in the Northwest so the coal can be shipped on rail line through Montana, Washington and Oregon. Communities along the rail line would be choked with more train traffic and longer and longer waits at crossings. Montana has little to gain from Arch Coal's venture. Montana would lose a treasure. The Otter Creek Valley is one of the last undeveloped places in the state and the nation rich in cultural and historical value. Irreparable harm would come to the valley if the mine and accompanied Tongue River railroad were brought to fruition. Who would gain from these schemes? Arch Coal would get the profits. China would get the coal. Montana would only get the impacts.
I will spare you an analysis of Ari LeVaux’s outrageously flawed argumentation (see “Harvesting horses,” May 16) of simply selling (killing) “used-up” horses to curb an alleged horse overpopulation, and instead thank him for the opportunity to present a real solution—birth control for horses (and deer).
Ari was only correct about one thing: There is absolutely no need for the BLM to waste taxpayers’ money on cruel and senseless round-ups of horses, holding them indefinitely while much better, cheaper and humane solutions exist.
Horses, just like urban deer, do not need to (nor should they) be killed just because there are “too many” of them—after all, this is a human-caused problem that requires a scientific and ethically-sound solution. Ordering a death sentence to horses (or senselessly killing urban deer like the town of Helena has been doing) does not work because of the compensatory rebound effect, where wild animals will increase reproduction once others have been killed and removed, and more habitat and food sources become available.
The real solution, which is available right here in our backyard, is a vaccine that targets reproduction of wildlife. Nearly three-decade-long research has shown that the vaccine porcine zona pellucid, or PZP, has been successfully controlling reproduction in members of over 85 species, including free roaming horses, deer and African elephants, who otherwise would have been killed due to an alleged overpopulation.
The wild and free roaming horses in the Pryor Mountains have been successfully managed with PZP for many years now, and so have other free-roaming horse populations, including Assateague Island National Seashore. PZP treatment can be administered with darts and it is 95 percent effective in horses, safe even in pregnant mares and its effect is reversible within five years of treatment.
Jay Kirkpatrick, one of two leading scientists in wildlife fertility control, is with the Science and Conservation Center in Billings, Montana. He can be contacted at http://www.sccpzp.org.
During a commencement speech at Ohio State University on May 5, President Barack Obama said, “Unfortunately, you’ve grown up hearing voices that incessantly warn of government as nothing more than some separate, sinister entity that’s at the root of all our problems; some of these same voices also doing their best to gum up the works. They’ll warn that tyranny is always lurking just around the corner. You should reject these voices. Because what they suggest is that our brave and creative and unique experiment in self-rule is somehow just a sham with which we can’t be trusted.”
Five days later, Lois Lerner, a lawyer for the Internal Revenue Service, admitted that agents of that most feared of institutions had illegally targeted Obama’s political enemies for extraordinary scrutiny. So much for that “sinister entity” Obama said did not exist. Is this tyranny? You be the judge.
When the Lerner revelations came to light, Obama claimed outrage. He told us that he would look into the problem and punish those responsible. A few days later the temporary IRS Commissioner, Steven Miller, retired a month early with full benefits. Some punishment!
Meanwhile, Sarah Hall Ingram, the person who was actually in charge of the IRS agents responsible for the wrongdoing has been promoted to head the newly created IRS section which will control our financial and medical records under Obamacare. Does she deserve our trust?
Considering that Sen. Jon Tester was the 60th vote for Obamacare, which created these 16,500 new IRS agents, and allowing that Sen. Max Baucus has called Obamacare a “train wreck,” I have a question which every Montanan should ask Sen. Tester: What are you doing to see to it that this multitude of new IRS agents will treat each citizen of Montana with dignity and fairness? During testimony before Congress, outgoing IRS Commissioner Steven Miller said that the targeting of Obama’s political enemies was nothing more than a simple case of “horrible customer service.” Notwithstanding Miller’s assertion, Montanans can plainly see that the most invasive and onerous of federal agencies, the IRS, has been used to punish those who disagree with this president. Most Montanans did not vote for Obama. Are we to expect “horrible customer service” for our health care as a result?
I am a lawyer from Washington state quoted in Alex Sakariassen’s article about assisted suicide, or “aid in dying” (see “Cowardice to courage,” April 11). I am writing to urge your readers to not make Washington’s mistake by allowing assisted suicide/euthanasia to become part of your state’s legal fabric. Once in place, this “trend” is not controllable. The deaths at issue may be anything but peaceful.
In 2008, we voted for a law to legalize assisted suicide for persons predicted to have less than six months to live. By 2011, there were newspaper proposals to expand that law to direct euthanasia for non-terminal persons. In 2012, a friend sent me this article suggesting euthanasia for people unable to afford their own care, which would be involuntary euthanasia. In my law practice, I have had two clients whose parents signed up for the lethal dose.
In one case, one side of the family wanted the parent to take the lethal dose while the other did not. The parent spent the last months of his life traumatized and/or struggling over the decision of whether or not to kill himself. My client was also traumatized. The parent did not take the lethal dose and died a natural death.
In the other case, the parent reportedly refused to take the lethal dose at his first suicide party (“I’m going to bed. You’re not killing me”) and was high on alcohol the next night when he took the dose at a second party. The person who told this to my client then recanted, apparently concerned about his own criminal liability. My client did not want to pursue the matter further. As a lawyer, I couldn’t help but notice that if the parent’s much younger wife had divorced him, he would have got the house. This way, she got everything.
Don’t make our mistake.
Have you ever heard of Otter Creek? If not, you may want to know what is happening in eastern Montana and how it will impact those of us who live near railroad tracks in different communities across the state.
Otter Creek is one of many projects that is part of a scheme by coal companies to export Montana and Wyoming coal to Asia. If these projects come to fruition, we can expect train traffic through Montana to increase substantially—imagine at least a doubling of trains each day. This should concern all of us. I live on the Northern Pacific in Belgrade and literally from my front door to the outside railroad tie it is only 280 feet. The average rail car is about 65 feet. If there was a derailment, it is a real possibility that I could have a rail car in my living room.
The tracks cut my town in two. I live on one side of the tracks and the police, fire station, post office, and schools are located on the other side. The potential length of the coal trains could exceed one mile. The current wait for trains is eight to 10 minutes with approximately 18 trains per day. With the increase in coal trains, individuals and businesses could potentially waste several hours a day waiting to cross the tracks.
My sleep is interrupted by the train horns on a regular basis and I can't leave my windows open in the summer because of the noise. In Billings, the city paid $1.47 million for a quiet zone around the hospitals. The taxpayers paid for this.
Get informed and speak out, this is going to affect you. More information can be obtained by going to www.northernplains.org.