The Billings Outpost

Renewable energy makes sense

Right now, Montana’s lawmakers are reviewing the Renewable Energy Standard, which requires utilities to increase the amount of renewable energy they buy. But they are trying to fix something that isn’t broken.  Renewable energy is a great buy for Montana. Power from the wind farm at Judith Gap, for example, is cheaper than electricity from Colstrip. That’s a fact. NorthWestern has reported it, and the Public Service Commission has recorded it.

And actually, solar is cheaper too. I know because I just bought solar photovoltaic panels for my house — which I am installing myself — and they are going to pay for themselves in six years. After that, I am going to have free electricity for at least 20 years.

The reason why some legislators want to mess with the Renewable Energy Standard, I suspect, is not because clean energy isn’t working, it’s because the coal lobby is running scared. Some rich people have a lot of money invested in coal, and things are not looking good for coal right now. PPL is trying to sell its share of Colstrip to NorthWestern, but when NorthWestern crunched the numbers, it turned out that Colstrip had a negative value. That’s right. The economics of coal are so bad, PPL would actually have to pay NorthWestern money before NorthWestern would “buy” Colstrip.

If it isn’t broken, the Legislature shouldn’t try to fix it. The Renewable Energy Standard is good for the economy, good for the environment, and good for ratepayers.

Wade Sikorski


Last Updated on Thursday, 05 June 2014 11:52

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Reject Keysyone XL pipeline

When is somebody going to tell the truth about the Keystone XL pipeline? Again and again I hear how it is vital to our national energy security.  What a bunch of malarkey! Has anybody considered why this pipeline is going to deliver that Alberta crude to Gulf Coast refineries. The refined product will all be loaded on tankers for export. China will be the recipient of much of it, I suspect. Once this pipeline is built, all we’ll have left is a very small number of jobs and the risk to our environment. Oh, Texas and Louisiana will probably get some extra road oil and mountains of sand that will be difficult to dispose of. Let’s see it for what it really is, and it isn’t good for the USA!

John Johnson


Last Updated on Thursday, 05 June 2014 11:51

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Promises not kept

It was interesting to read of the morality of the current White House in a letter in March. He got us out of the futile war of Iraq, leaving about 10,000 155mm warheads, each with a gallon of Sarin gas capable of killing 10,000 people. These, originally 20,100, were transferred to Afghanistan and Al Qaida where the 10,000 or so were destroyed at Tora Bora.

The car industry has been bailed out before by the taxpayers. The question here is have they really paid back the taxpayer or not? If so, where is the proof?

The White House did not eliminate Osama Bin Laden, it only gave approval to the many special ops men who had been practicing for months. The most highly trained warriors, DEVGRU, planned and executed a fine operation and produced the corpse of the most wanted man in the world. The fact is that Ayman Zawahiri fingered Bin Laden (to the CIA?) because he wanted to head Al Qaeda and so wanted him dead. These two were behind the attacks against the U.S. and Coalition troops with the WMDs that Saddam had hidden out and transferred to Al Qaeda.

The first gas attack occurred in April 2003 and there have been more than 600 reported attacks since, all of which have been downplayed by said White House and the media. This was exposed by leaks by a service man and Wiki. Bin Laden was the money man and Zawahiri was the brains in converting the 155mm shells to usable WMDs.

What is going to happen when Al Qaeda finds another brain and another financier? Remember they still have 10,000 of those warheads.

Unemployment has decreased because of those leaving the lists. What are the actual unemployed numbers? Fifteen, 18 or 20 percent? Most new jobs listed are part time due to the many policies forced upon business by this administration. Is small business a criminal activity that needs to be crushed and punished for believing in free enterprise?

The economy? Has no one noticed the rise in prices of everything? Have you noticed that plans to ship oil through pipelines has been quashed at the cost of thousands of jobs? Where are the jobs that can support a family? Why are there plans to cut the military when everybody and their brother wants to destroy this country and its stand on freedom and individual liberty?

Health care? How long until it implodes from devouring trillions of worthless dollars? Promises? Harrumph!

Keith Babcock


Last Updated on Thursday, 05 June 2014 11:50

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Curb carbon pollution

Recently, Gov. Steve Bullock received a letter signed by more than 50 Montana health professionals from across the state. The letter asks Gov. Bullock and his administration to strongly support proposed limits on carbon pollution from power plants.

The reasons are simple: Discharge of toxins and carbon from coal burning plants are causing health problems and climate change, which also carries serious health impacts.

Currently, there are no limits on how much carbon power plants are allowed to emit. However, the Environmental Protection Agency, under the Clean Air Act, has proposed limits on such emissions from future power plants and is expected to propose limits on carbon pollution from existing plants in June.

The physicians, nurses, respiratory therapists and others who signed the letter to Gov. Bullock understand how coal burning plants are already worsening Montanans’ health. The public health will only worsen if we don’t take action to limit carbon pollution and slow climate change.

We also understand that the voice of industry and its allies is loud and strong, and there’s a danger of public health impacts being ignored or overshadowed by heated rhetoric. We can’t let that happen – Montana’s healthy future is too important.

Polluters have always resisted Clean Air Act rules, yet the Act’s 40-year history shows – time-after-time – that cleaning up our air and reducing toxic emissions saves lives and billions of dollars in health care spending. People want – and deserve – clean, healthy air.

In the case of coal-burning plants, there are no limits at all on current carbon emissions. It’s essential to public health that we reduce the amount of carbon that goes into our air.

Carbon pollution and climate change are already having measurable impacts on health. Scientists have shown that the buildup of carbon pollution in our atmosphere creates higher temperatures, which has in turn increased the frequency exposure to ozone, unhealthy smog levels and extreme weather events, including more floods, drought and longer, more intense wildfire seasons.

In Montana we’ve witnessed the health impacts of larger and more frequent wildfires during recent years, with our pulmonologists seeing more children in respiratory distress due to smoky air. More wildfires are especially risky for children with asthma and older adults with COPD.

Higher levels of smog (ozone) also mean more adult and childhood asthma attacks and complications for those with lung disease. Children are more susceptible to the health effects of air pollution because their lungs are still developing, they breathe more air per pound of body weight and they often spend more time outdoors when compared to adults.

Others who are suffering health problems due to climate impacts include people struggling with heart disease, allergies, diabetes and obesity, as well as athletes and seniors.

According to a bipartisan survey by the American Lung Association, most voters support efforts to update our clean air protections. An astounding 72 percent of voters specifically want limits on power plant carbon pollution.

That same survey shows that 73 percent of voters don’t buy into industry’s “false choice” that we must choose between public health and a strong economy – we can achieve both. By a two-to-one majority, voters believe that strengthening safeguards against pollution will create, not destroy, jobs by encouraging innovation. The cost savings in terms of health care expenditures alone will make clean-up of toxic emissions financially feasible.

Reducing carbon pollution, coupled with steps being taken to cut other dangerous power plant pollution such as soot, mercury and other toxics, will protect public health, improve efficiency and encourage innovation.

As healthcare professionals who value our state’s healthy air, and spend our careers safeguarding the health of people in Montana, we urge Gov. Bullock and other state leaders to support the reduction of carbon pollution in Montana.

Dr. Paul Smith, Missoula

Dr. Colette Kirchhoff, Bozeman

Dr. Lori Byron, Hardin

Last Updated on Thursday, 05 June 2014 11:49

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Kemmick’s the best

Having got out of the Outpost habit for a while, recently I happened to pick up a copy


Now I am going to make it a weekly habit again. I think Ed is the best, and have really missed his column in that other paper.

His story on the couple having problems with the Bank of America was very interesting – and hope he follows up on it.”

Dorothe Fisher


Last Updated on Thursday, 05 June 2014 11:48

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Where is Zinke on abortion?

In an article published in Lee Enterprises newspapers on May 4, Ryan Zinke called two other women and me liars. Now it’s time to set the record straight.

On March 11, three representatives from Concerned Women for America Legislative Action Committee met with Ryan Zinke and his adviser Randy Vogel at Zinke’s office in Billings. The meeting was at Zinke’s request; he expressed a desire to know more about CWALAC. In that meeting we shared who our organization is and what we do.

Early on in the conversation, I asked Mr. Zinke what his stance was on abortion. He furrowed his brow, thought for a minute and replied, “I’m OK with it up to, oh, 20 weeks.” My poker face disappeared. “20 weeks?” I asked.

“Yes” he replied. Meanwhile, Mr. Vogel, sitting in a chair set slightly behind us with his arms crossed, was shaking his head “no” as if to say “Shut up now - wrong answer.” We continued to discuss other issues, and toward the end of the meeting Kristi Miller (one of the other ladies at the meeting) said, “OK, so I just want to be sure we are clear. You DO in fact support abortion up to 20 weeks without restrictions?” and for the third time he answered, “Yes.” We left the meeting perplexed.

The Republican National Committee Platform states “Faithful to the ‘self-evident’ truths enshrined in the Declaration of Independence, we assert the sanctity of human life and affirm that the unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life which cannot be infringed.” Zinke is running as a member of the party that supports this platform statement.

Therein lies the problem. Ryan Zinke is claiming to be the “true conservative for Montana.” In 2009 Zinke’s NARAL rating was 65 percent and in 2011 it was 0 percent. Did he have a change of heart or was he trying to redeem himself among conservatives?

The Montana Democratic Party recently called into question Zinke’s true beliefs via Twitter and their website. Many members of the Republican establishment have spoken out against Zinke. Are we all lying? Is this some intricate plot meant to thwart the Zinke campaign?

The question that begs to be asked is why are both conservatives and liberals calling into question Zinke’s stance on the same issue? Why can’t we get a straight answer from Zinke when Corey Stapleton, Elsie Arntzen, Matt Rosendale and Drew Turiano all answer “Yes” when asked if they are pro-life?

Montanans simply want the truth. Montanans want to know where the candidates stand on this issue. It is time citizens hold every candidate accountable not only for what they say but also for their voting record.

In the spirit of truth, transparency and accountability, CWA of Montana has sent out a pro-life pledge to every candidate seeking the U.S. House seat.  We will post the signed pledges as they are returned on our website at I encourage every citizen to look up each candidate’s past voting record on the internet.  There are a plethora of tools available if we check the facts.

We are offended at having been called liars, but instead of just ranting about it, we are offering all of the candidates a chance to make their stand on the pro-life issue very clear. Words do matter.

Kari Zeier

Concerned Women for America Legislative Action Committee

Last Updated on Thursday, 29 May 2014 12:14

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