The Billings Outpost

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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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Impressed by Zinke

I met Ryan Zinke recently, and he impressed me that he is a man of integrity. Not the “integrity when expedient” variety of politician that is so common, but the sort of non-negotiable character that America desperately seeks. His handshake was firm, his mannerism gentle, his speech soft and respectful. He projected conviction, saying, “I know and I won’t forget who I work for,” meaning Montanans, not a political party or the politically powerful.

I asked him if he had been inoculated against “Potomac fever,” the political illness that infects people when they get to D.C. His answer was rock solid saying, “I don’t back down.”

As a former SEAL Team 6 member, mission commander and director of Naval Special Warfare Technology, I suspect he knows the meaning of those words.

Nowadays when the federal government is characterized by septic scandals on a near-daily basis, I am impressed that Montanans have the  opportunity to BEGIN cleaning up our often out-of-control and unaccountable government. No, I don’t think he can transform Washington’s sordid mess alone or cowboy up the “cleansing creams” politicians we live with, but I hope Ryan can begin the process. I’ll vote for binding integrity this time.

Craig Byington


Last Updated on Thursday, 29 May 2014 12:13

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Daines for the rich

Mr. [Steve] Daines claims to be a fifth-generation Montanan, which is not true; he was born in Van Nuys, Calif.

We need to check Daines’ voting record.

Daines voted against the Obamacare act, but it has more than 8 million supporters and is still growing.

Thanks to Daines, the Tea Party and the Republican-controlled House, there are thousands of poor Montanans who still don’t have health insurance.

Daines voted against the minimum wage, to prioritize Medicare, cut taxes for the wealthy, to shut down the federal government that hurt the lower-income people, cut food stamps.

Daines is a pawn for the Tea Party, Americans for Prosperity, Ted Cruz and Paul Ryan. Daines and the Republican/Tea Party are strictly for the rich and don’t care about the middle or poor class.

Daines and his fellow Republicans want a two-class system, the real rich and the real poor, so they can control everything.

I would like to know why people who have so little to give are willing to give so much and yet the people like Daines and his fellow Republicans with so much to give are only willing to give a little, except for things that help the rich.

We don’t need people like Daines, Ted Cruz and Paul Ryan or the Republican Party to tell us how to live our lives. We need to stand up for what the middle class stands for and not let “Big Money” control our future.

Ron Kuneff


Last Updated on Thursday, 29 May 2014 12:07

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Route bypasses nothing

I went to the open house where an engineering firm out of Denver gave a presentation about the latest chosen Billings bypass route.

The bypass a presented was nothing but a ring of “baloney.” It is not a bypass by any stretch of the imagination.

The proposed highway would go straight through a residential zoned single-family area for at least two miles with no buffer zone from interstate traffic. It ruins a nature park and wildlife refuge at the end of Mary Street where there are hiking paths, bike paths and a scenic view of the Yellowstone River.

The plane ride I reviewed revealed the new interstate truck route that would connect Highway 312 where it will meet Billings Heights Main Street, already the busiest street in Montana.

This is “not” a bypass route. It bypasses nothing. It will ruin the lifestyles for all homes on Mary Street and many streets nearby.

George Graham



Last Updated on Thursday, 29 May 2014 12:06

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