David Oclander

The following is not the opinion of environmentalists, liberal media or biased intellectuals. This is directly from the Department of Defense Climate Risk Analysis published in October 2021.

“Climate change is reshaping the geostrategic, operational, and tactical environments with significant implications for U.S. national security and defense. Increasing temperatures; changing precipitation patterns; and more frequent, intense, and unpredictable extreme weather conditions caused by climate change are exacerbating existing risks and creating new security challenges for U.S. interests.”

As the Secretary of Defense, Lloyd Austin has said, “To keep the nation secure, we must tackle the existential threat of climate change.” We are already seeing its undeniable impact on crops, livestock devastating fires that destroy homes and public lands, limiting fishing on our rivers, and so much more. Thankfully, we have mostly left the denial stage of the challenges presented by these changes.

When I served adjacent to General, now Secretary of Defense Austin, in the 82nd Airborne Division he was anything but a partisan hack. To suggest anything of the sort would have cost you a few teeth in Fort Bragg. General Austin was known for his candor and loyalty to his Paratroopers.

This same kind of candor and loyalty is exactly what is needed to protect our nation while we face these climate threats to Montana and America. Last week both of the Treasure State’s U.S. Senators were in the news and the contrast between their actions was stark!

Senator Jon Tester’s walk of candor and loyalty matched his talk as he stood up for our veterans because it was the right thing to do. He doesn’t gamble with our health and certainly doesn’t fist bump our losses. Senator Tester ensures veterans are protected by leading on the bipartisan PACT Act, legislation he wrote. He knows that taking care of our veterans is part of the cost of going to war.

Likewise, he ensures the futures of all Montana families, especially our youth, by supporting and leading on thoughtful, sustainable actions to combat climate change through the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022. His actions speak louder than hollow campaign soundbites; he gives Montana’s ranchers, farmers, laborers, and families a path to deal with inflation and the undeniable impacts of climate change, not a fist bump down.

Contrast this leadership with Senator Steve Daines – a man who openly celebrates a partisan stunt at the expense of our veterans' lives; men and women who fought and sacrificed to protect his future. Senator Daines’ opposition and subsequent celebration of the PACT Act’s initial failure is disrespectful and downright hostile toward Montana’s veterans and our ability to raise and sustain our military.

Between ruthlessly voting against expanding their access to earned healthcare and denying their right to clean air by opposing any effort to tackle climate change, Senator Daines has gone out of his way to show he will do anything to support special interests, while abandoning Montana and Montanans.

He claims to be a public lands champion, then holds the Blackfoot Clearwater Stewardship Act in exchange for release of wilderness study bills to the timber industry. He claims to support veterans then votes against the veteran's home (and then shows up for the groundbreaking). Service Men and Women don’t put their politics over country, our elected officials should be held to the same standard.

Thankfully, after much backlash, the PACT Act did garner enough support and is on its way to the President’s desk. Never have I felt so proud to be represented by Senator Tester and never so ashamed to have the representation of Senator Daines. Hopefully, Montanans will again call Senator Daines’ office and tell him to support the Inflation Reduction Act. Our accountability seems to work.

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