Legislative Session: Week 14 (Part I)

by jhwygirl

There are a number of committee hearings for Monday through Wednesday. Here is the complete list.

It’s a hard pick on which industry has gotten more attempts at free passes this session: coal or coal bed methane. There’s been a bevvy of bills for both, and Monday House Taxation hears one sucky bill, while House Federal Relations, Energy and Telecommunications hears another doozy and even the Senate Natural Resources Committee gets into the act with yet another horrible, horrible environmental bill. Wednesday brings one more in House Natural Resources.

House Taxation hears SB499, which would reduce coal severance tax rates for new production for green facilities. Well – green coal is a fallacy, at least around these parts. Whatever efforts are done to make the stuff “appear” green is completed with costly carbon-rich efforts including ridiculous pipelines associated with the untested savior method of carbon sequestration. The machinery and infrastructure associated with “cleaning” coal negate any resulting so-called clean efforts. Hopefully House Taxation will kill this ridiculous bill, which didn’t get support from key environmental supporters in the Senate including Carol Williams, Christine Kaufmann, Carol Juneau and David Wanzenried. Even Republican Jim Shockley didn’t see fit to vote for it. Jennifer O’Loughlin is the secretary – joloughlin@mt.gov

House Federal Relations, Energy and Telecommunications hears SB498. This bill legislates the myth of untested carbon sequestration. Button Valley Press does far better at explaining its ills and faults here with CO2 Going To The Birds and here with Captive Carbon?. The latter is pretty scary…don’t pass that post by. This is another one we hope that the House can stop here in committee. Bryce Bennett is the secretary – bbennett@mt.gov.

Senate Natural Resources hears HB575 from Democrat Rep. Bill McChesney. McChesney’s a favorite around these parts – not! This bill would revise water laws relating to coal bed methane grant special status to coal bed methane extractors and exempt them from water permitting laws. Just another strike against senior water rights, I guess. This stuff is so damned offensive, I can not believe that anyone – Republican or Democrat – could stand for such a bill that stomps so directly on property rights. Then there is the corporate welfare-socialistic part of it. Give it away? Anything they request? WTH?! Sonja Nowakowski is the secretary for Senate Natural Resources – snowakowski@mt.gov.

Tuesday brings SB507, regarding the use of the state’s riverbeds. I didn’t like this before, I dislike it even more now that its way out of the Senate. Anything sanctioning obstructions to public access in the state’s waterways is bad stuff. We champion the Bridge Access Bill yet this thing is making its way through the legislative process? Another WTH? Maybe House Taxation (just the place a river bill needs to be, right?) will come to its senses and at least amend this bill to eliminate permanent obstructions in the river. Jennifer O’Loughlin is the secretary – joloughlin@mt.gov.

House Taxation also hears Sen. Roy Brown’s SB490 which further increases tax exemptions to business equipment. Bob Decker, of The Policy Institute, explains the lunacy and lies behind bills like this with Horse Trading and the Business Equipment Tax over at Session 61. Check the fiscal note on this one – it is atrocious. Legal concerns, significant local government impact. Ugly. See Jennifer O’Louglin’s contact information above….

Wednesday brings us another special treatment bill for {drumroll….} coal bed methane. SB505, from Republican Sen. Keith Bales (and Democrat Bill McChesney) would provide for a temporary water permit for this so-called beneficial use water brought up from the ground during coal bed methane extraction. Look – all of these water related bills concerning coal bed methane are an attempt to get around a recent Montana Supreme Court ruling which said that the long-standing practice and interpretation by various state agencies concerning ‘beneficial uses’ of the water was illegal. Even more – a recent scientific study concludes that coal bed methane wells harm groundwater. Yet another one that we hope House Natural Resources can put to bed in committee. Shirley Chovanak is the secretary for House Natural Resources – schovanak@mt.gov.

There it is folks. Remember, when emailing a committee secretary, request that your comments be forwarded to the entire committee. If you haven’t the time to email, call the legislative information desk (which opens at 7:30 a.m.) at 406-444-4800 and leave a message for the entire committee in one quick call.

It’s your government. Monday is legislative day #75 – only 15 more days left to the first session.

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