Last week, I found this rather interesting Bill on the Montana Legislature website. House Bill Number 549 was introduced by Republican State Representative Joe Read as Primary Sponsor on February 15, 2011. It was to be tabled in the State's Natural Resources Committee on February 21, 2011 but on February 24, it was listed on the Montana Legislature Detailed Bill Information webpage as having missed the deadline for General Bill Transmittal and is considered "probably dead".
House Bill 549's short title is "Clarify state's position on global warming and greenhouse gases". It sounds innocuous enough and relatively forward-thinking, doesn't it? Here are the contents of the bill:
2011 Montana Legislature
HOUSE BILL NO. 549
INTRODUCED BY J. READ
A BILL FOR AN ACT ENTITLED: "AN ACT STATING MONTANA'S POSITION ON GLOBAL WARMING; AND PROVIDING AN IMMEDIATE EFFECTIVE DATE."
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MONTANA:
NEW SECTION. Section 1. Public policy concerning global warming. (1) The legislature finds that to ensure economic development in Montana and the appropriate management of Montana's natural resources it is necessary to adopt a public policy regarding global warming.
(2) The legislature finds: - global warming is beneficial to the welfare and business climate of Montana; reasonable amounts of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere have no verifiable impacts on the environment; and - global warming is a natural occurrence and human activity has not accelerated it.
(3) For the purposes of this section, "global warming " relates to an increase in the average temperature of the earths surface. It does not include a one-time, catastrophic release of carbon dioxide.
NEW SECTION. Section 2. Codification instruction. [Section 1] is intended to be codified as an integral part of Title 75, chapter 2, and the provisions of Title 75, chapter 2, apply to [section 1].
NEW SECTION. Section 3. Effective date. [This act] is effective on passage and approval.
- END –
Mr. Read also introduced a companion bill, House Bill Number 550, which seeks to prevent the Federal government, through the actions of the Environmental Protection Agency, from dictating Federal greenhouse gas regulations to the State of Montana. The Bill states that forced administration of these regulations violates the 10th amendment of the Constitution of the United States which states that Montana retains its exclusive power to regulate intrastate commerce as it pertains to greenhouse gas emissions.
As background information, Joe Read assumed office on January 3, 2011 taking over from incumbent Frosty Calf Boss Ribs after defeating the Democrat candidate in a very close 1180 to 1108 vote split. Mr. Read is a 55 year old farmer and emergency firefighter who, apparently, did not consult any climate scientists before proposing his bill. Rather, he relied on his own intuition.
Perhaps Bill Number 549 are not quite what one would have expected. I find the line that "global warming is beneficial to the welfare and business climate of Montana" particularly interesting. I guess the idea that a relatively cold state might warm up sounds relatively appealing on the surface. Helena, the capital of Montana, is located at an elevation of nearly 4100 feet and has long, cold and snowy winters. The daily mean annual temperature for Helena is 44 degrees Fahrenheit (6.7 degrees Celsius) and it has below freezing mean temperatures for 4 out of twelve months. On average, the first occurrence of freezing temperatures in the fall begins on September 18 and the last in the spring occurs on May 18 so the growing season is a relatively short 4 months in length. When you put all of these factors into perspective, a warming climate sounds pretty good. Unfortunately, it's not just that the temperatures warm up. More severe weather patterns, for example tornadoes, hail-bearing thunderstorms and massive snowfalls are more likely as temperature warms. Let's not forget the increased possibility of increased wildfires as well. But, at least you don't have to wear mittens and a parka for 8 months of the year!
All of this is being done, in large part, because Montana is a relatively large producer of both natural gas and oil. In the month of October 2010, Montana produced 2.095 million barrels of oil putting them in 12th place in the United States as shown here:
In 2009, Montana produced 98.245 BCF of natural gas good enough for 18th place in the United States as shown here:
Eastern Montana is home to a portion of the Bakken oil shale play as shown here and it is estimated that Montana's Elm Coulee Field could recover as much as 270 million barrels of oil:
Perhaps that's the real motivation behind Mr. Read's actions! Apparently, what's good for Montana is good for Montana....well, at least Montana's oil and gas industry.