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The window is closing on averting even worse climate disasters due to manmade greenhouse gas emissions.

We need NorthWestern Energy as an ally to discover the best way to add flexible generating capacity as renewables expand and coal phases out.

Adding the $250 million Laurel Generating Station at 175 Mega Watts using 18 internal combustion natural gas engine generator sets clearly addresses this problem. But a better answer may become apparent if the following four pieces of legislation become law this year:

The Infrastructure bill, with a vote in the House scheduled by Sept. 27. Passage will provide the money to advance Montana solutions for climate-resiliency in water resources and forestry, modernize our electric grid, and fund electric vehicle charging stations.

The ‘Growing Climate Solutions Act’ will allow Montana farmers and ranchers to access carbon markets by adapting soil health practices that build and retain organic matter, maintain continuous cover, and minimize tillage and chemical disturbance. The sequestered carbon becomes the basis for verified offset credits.

The $250 billion ‘U.S. Innovation and Competition Act’ will boost government spending on technology research and development amid rising competition from China. Key provisions include R&D for carbon-capture and diversifying the geography of American innovation. The House must now combine it with its ‘National Science Foundation for the Future Act’ and the ‘Department of Energy Science for the Future Act’.

But the energy provisions in the Build Back Better Act will have the greatest impact on rebuilding Montana’s energy economy. Incentives for energy conservation and decarbonization of fossil fueled heating, industrial uses and transportation, down to individual households, are included. Most of our international trading partners are going to tax CO2 and methane emissions including those in U.S. imports. A similar U.S. tax would impact China most and it meets budget reconciliation requirements.  

John A. Noreika, Sr.


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