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Monday is Climate Change Awareness Day at Montana Legislature

February 2, 2009View for printing

Democratic legislators will mark Climate Change Awareness Day today, Feb. 2, in the Montana House of Representatives. “Climate change is real and the pace of change is quickening,” said Rep. Mike Phillips (D-Bozeman). “It affects nearly every aspect of our lives and we have to come to grips with it.” On Monday, there will be hearings on three pieces of legislation and Nobel laureate Dr. Steven Running from the University of Montana will hold a seminar at the noon hour in the Old Supreme Court. Running was one of the authors of the 2007 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change who shared in the Nobel Peace Prize won by with former vice president Al Gore. He has been with the University of Montana since 1979. At 3 p.m. today, the House Federal Relations, Energy and Telecommunications Committee (FRET) will hear three bills relevant to the challenges that accompany global climate change.

* HJR 13, sponsored by Rep. Betsy Hands (D-Missoula), encouraging the state to become “carbon neutral” by 2030;

* HB 375, sponsored by Rep. Mike Phillips (D-Bozeman), regarding the state’s participation in a regional or federal climate change initiative, and

* HB 255, also sponsored by Rep. Mike Phillips, requiring public utilities and electricity providers to gradually procure more of their retail sales of electrical energy from renewable resources.

“These are matters of national security and economic integrity,” said Rep. Art Noonan (D-Butte), chairman of the Federal Relations, Energy and Telecommunications Committee. Noonan pointed to a long list of other bills under consideration by lawmakers. Topics range from recycling tax incentives to energy improvement districts to improved energy efficiency in state buildings and schools. “This a broad problem,” he said. “It requires a broad solution.” And the joint resolution introduced by Hands has been endorsed by the National Association of Counties and the U.S. Conference of Mayors, as well as Sarasota County, Florida, and the State of New Mexico and the cities of Santa Fe and Albuquerque New Mexico. It calls for the “new construction, renovation, repairs and replacement of buildings (to) employ cost-effective, energy-efficient, green building practices to the maximum extent possible.” “We have examples in Montana of these types of buildings,” Hands said. “Some buildings are renovated and others are newly constructed, but they all prove that when they are designed for high performance, they save money annually and easily pay for the improvements and then some. And, as more and more Montanans lose their jobs, Phillips noted the connections between battling climate change and getting Montanans back to work. “All of these ideas – whether we’re talking about installing energy-efficient windows in buildings or constructing transmission lines across the state – require a new workforce with new skills,” he said.

Lynn Solomon Majority Aide Montana House of Representatives (406) 444-4843 (406) 202-1626 (cell)
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