Viewpoint: Energy policy rollback is a breach of bipartisanship
Katie Sullivan and Derek Harvey
Recently the House Energy, Technology and Federal Relations Committee heard House Bill 170, a bill to repeal Montana's energy policy. As committee members, what we heard about this proposal is concerning/troubling.
Montana's current energy policy is an evolving roadmap with 30 years of bipartisan legislative input. It contains coal, oil, gas, wind, solar, and hydroelectric power sources. It gives thoughtful guidance about innovation and responsible development. It's not a liberal or conservative wish list, and we worked across party lines just last session to update it.
This is a power grab by the Governor under the guise of red-tape reduction. The only proponent was his natural resources policy advisor, who testified that the Governor wants a "clean slate," but that clean slate strips away decades of legislative expertise and involvement. In fact, the legislative files show correspondence from his office with this language "Repeal 90-4-1001 and replace with: Give the Governor the ability to craft a new Energy policy if he desires."
It is also worth noting that no industry proponents for the bill. If this was really about red tape and cumbersome regulations, wouldn't they be in the hearing testifying in support?
Repealing the state energy policy is stripping away the people's voice. Each legislative session, there is the opportunity for testimony and feedback from citizens across the state. Then people's representatives debate the pros and cons and craft a blueprint for how the state should operate in the coming years. It lays out a plan to direct state government when making energy decisions when the legislature is not in session.
We all know how vital energy is to our daily lives. Whether your car runs on diesel, gas, or electric or whether climate change keeps you up at night or not, our energy policy matters. It must be guided by the citizens and their representatives, not by one man.
We've all worked for or watched organizations or businesses where one person had too much power – where their decisions went unchecked. Inevitably concentrated power benefits a few, but it rarely helps the many.
We should look deeply at the bill whenever we hear "red tape reduction." Is it really about reducing roadblocks and making things easier? Or is it about power and taking away the people's voices?
House Bill 170 would give the Governor the power to do whatever he wants. Repealing Montanan's energy policy is a terrible idea and will have negative consequences for years. We encourage everyone to call or message their representative and tell them to vote against HB170.
Katie Sullivan is the Representative for HD 89, and Derek Harvey is the Representative for HD 74. Both serve on the House Energy, Technology and Federal Relations Committee.