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You Decide

The following news/opinion stories all showed up in my RSS reader this morning. Taken together I think they recognize a conundrum being played out in energy-producing states around the country. The first is an opinion piece by a policy analyst for a conservative think tank in Ohio, but similar opinions are showing up in newsprint and electronic media in most western and mid-western states.

Without coal, we lose
“When energy companies doing business in Ohio make profits, nearly everyone wins, and Ohio’s economy grows, which results in job creation and additional tax dollars for all levels of government.”

With Carbon Dioxide Emissions at Record High, Worries on How to Slow Warming
“Emissions continue to grow so rapidly that an international goal of limiting the ultimate warming of the planet to 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit, established three years ago, is on the verge of becoming unattainable, said researchers affiliated with the Global Carbon Project.”

Long-Term Research Reveals How Climate Change Is Playing out in Real Ecosystems
“Around the world, the effects of global climate change are increasingly evident and difficult to ignore.”

Off The Cliff And Into Deep Water? Cutting Clean Air And Clean Water Programs Could Incur Heavy Costs
“The health cost of power plant pollution is an estimated $100 billion each year, nationwide, when people get sick or die from breathing dirty air. When polluted water makes swimmers sick, the additional public health costs in just two southern California counties has been estimated at $21 to $51 million each year.”

Wyoming – A look into the effects of energy development on fish
“Most anglers are pretty even-keeled and realize the need for alternative energy development. I think most would agree, however, that if that development comes at the cost of our fisheries it’s not worth it. There are ways to mitigate the impact of energy development on our rivers; and studies like Carlin’s are helping to show how best to preserve fisheries while allowing energy development.”

This is but one day in an on-going argument that is playing out across the country. What does this mean for the Treasure State? Yes, Montana will continue to develop our natural resources. Our economy was built on the resource extraction, but we all need to remember that these resources are finite need to be developed for the benefit of all of the people in Montana and all of the people in our country. The need for alternative, less polluting, energy development must be given equal weight alongside the development of existing natural resources. Mining coal, or drilling for natural gas has consequences that can far outweigh their short-term effects on local economies. As we move forward, we need to keep in mind that we have no choice but to wean ourselves from technologies that kill our people and our environment. We will continue to mine our coal resources and remove our oil and gas from the earth for the near future, but as we do that we need to take into account all of the consequences, not just the monetary rewards or the short-term profit motive.

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