Keila Szpaller

(Daily Montanan) The Montana Public Service Commission should consider climate change in its regulation of gas and electric utilities, according to a petition submitted Wednesday to the regulatory agency.

The petition asks the PSC to “abide by Montanans’ Constitutional right to a clean and healthful environment, which includes the right to a stable climate.” A news release from the Western Environmental Law Center on behalf of more than 40 organizations and businesses said Montana courts have twice found the state has an obligation to consider climate change in its decision-making.

The historic decision in Held v. Montana this summer in the youth climate trial found a provision in the Montana Environmental Policy Act that prohibits state agencies from considering climate in their reviews to be unconstitutional. The organizations said the legislature exempts the Public Service Commission from MEPA, but the body still has a clear “constitutional obligation to maintain and improve a clean and healthful environment for present and future generations.”

“PSC Commissioners take an oath to uphold our Montana State Constitution,” said Winona Rachel, organizer with Families for a Livable Climate, in a statement. “Montana families need them to do their job to protect both our wallets and our shared climate. Our courts have already ruled that our youth have a right to a clean and healthful environment. We owe it to ourselves and our children and grandchildren to ensure a livable future for the place we all call home.”

The organizations said Montanans have the right to request state agencies adopt new administrative rules, and this petition asks the PSC to “include consideration of the economic, social and environmental implications its regulatory decisions have on the climate.”

Petitioners also are from the Montana Environmental Information Center, Earthjustice, Gallatin Valley Sunrise, Bridger Bowl Ski Area, Montana Wildlife Federation, Blackfoot River Brewery, Helena Hunters and Anglers and others.