Jeff Smith

Now comes the King of Methane, NorthWestern Energy’s Sir John Hines, to tell us little people to avoid rhetorical arguments. We must burn coal! We must burn methane!

Sir John has no qualms about outfitting his vacation home on Wildhorse Island with a solar array. NorthWestern’s customers, meanwhile, must not partake.

It’s not rhetorical to point out that NorthWestern has no quest for the cheapest energy. He threatens brown-outs, but has zero consideration for retrofitting every home and business to conserve electricity.

An independent representative of the judiciary should not rise up to interrupt one of Sir John’s projects, the methane burner in Laurel. Sorry, Sir John. You may have supplicants galore in the Governor’s Office, the Legislature, and the Public Service Commission, but judges weigh evidence, not . . . rhetoric.

And, climate change is not rhetorical. You are doubling NorthWestern’s ownership of the Colstrip plants and running them full throttle until 2045. That’s 10 million tons of CO2 each year, 11 million if you add in the pollution from the Laurel methane plant.

The EPA estimates the social cost of carbon at $200 a ton. That means $2.2 billion in climate damage each year – or $50 billion until you’re done wreaking havoc.