2011 Montana Legislative Scorecard

 

 
For Montana’s Air, Land and Water – Who we elect matters!
 
If any voter doubts that, they missed the 2011 Montana legislature.   
 
Montana laws that protect our clear, cold water, clean air and public health, and our incredible hunting, fishing and outdoor heritage came under the worst attack in decades, and since Montana Conservation Voters began in 1999. Radical, out of touch legislators introduced dozens of bills to dismantle government and let polluters govern themselves.   Most attacks failed in legislature or at the Governor’s veto brand, thanks to
 
The incredible involvement of Montana Conservation Voters members and other conservationists who made thousands of calls, sent emails, testified and visited with legislators and the Governor.  Many joined forces in lobby days and the “Rally for the Love of Montana. “ Voters made their voices heard. Many legislators responded. 
 
Legislative champions, new and returning, many of whom come from the ranks of the conservation community. They stood up every day, speaking truth to power. 
 
A committed, talented team in Helena and throughout Montana who work for organizations participating in the Conservation Working Group.  They tirelessly and often successfully led the forces to defeat the abundant  anti-environment, anti-jobs, citizen participation in government bills.
 
Virtually every attempt by radical legislators to dismantle Montana’s clean energy economy was killed. Hundreds of outdoor enthusiasts descended upon the Senate Agriculture committee and defeated the egregious attack on stream access, one of our most cherished rights protected by the law.  Clean water experts, farmers, ranchers and Native Americans opposed SB 306, which would have repealed our voter-approved ban on new cyanide mines, had it not burned up under the VETO brand.  A plethora of bills to make it impossible for communities to plan in the face of developments were thankfully killed.   
 
Despite these successes, Montana suffered defeat when the Legislature passed SB 233, which eviscerates the Montana Environmental Policy Act. Now, Montanans will have little voice and fewer protections when permitting decisions are made about developments in their back yard.  In his “non-signing” letter allowing the bill to become law, Governor Schweitzer called on agency heads to come back to the Legislature in 2013 with recommendations for a new, improved law.  They need look no further than the bi-partisan 2001 Environmental Quality Council report on MEPA.  It found the law worked well, was cost effective, reduced lawsuits and increased community involvement and certainty for permit applicants.  
 
The legislature gave the coal industry unnecessary tax breaks, while hard rock mining operations, which have served up multi-million dollar water pollution clean up bills for Montana taxpayers, benefit from less permitting scrutiny.  
 
Don’t forget that corporations are now allowed to spend unlimited money in election “independent expenditures.” They did in the 2010 elections and are poised to spend millions more in 2012. We have to fight back.
 
Let’s level the playing field.  Help Montana Conservation Voters recruit and elect pro-conservation candidates and defeat the radical legislators who stand up for polluters, not Montana voters.
 
Start today.  Montana Conservation Voters is hosting several events throughout the state to shine a spotlight on legislative votes, and recruit legislative candidates. Attend one, call your legislators to thank them for their pro-conservation votes and hold them accountable. Or, defeat them in 2012.
 
 

 

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