Big Coal’s Politicians Called Out at Montana Republicans Convention

ImageCross posted from the Coal Export Action

Friday evening, delegates at the Montana Republicans State Convention received an unexpected visit and serenade from the Blue Skies Campaign and Occupy Missoula.  During the dinnertime reception for candidate for Congress Steve Daines, the activists showed up to protest the Republican Party’s emphasis on coal and other forms of dirty energy, to the exclusion of clean energy investments that could power our economy with green jobs.

Keep Montana’s massive coal reserves safely in the ground.  Join this summer’s Coal Export Action!

While Republican candidates in Montana occasionally give lip service to wind and other renewables, GOP politicians like Daines, Senate candidate Denny Rehberg, and gubernatorial candidate Rick Hill primarily want to see Montana remain dependent on coal, oil, and gas.  Hill, for instance, is at least as wedded to the idea of sacrificing the Otter Creek school trust tracts for coal development as is Montana’s current governor, Democrat Brian Schweitzer.

Yet coal mining would create relatively few jobs, at the expense of the sectors that really power Montana’s economy.  Agriculture and tourism, sectors that would both be hurt by coal mining and climate change, together supply almost 30% of the jobs in Montana.  For comparison, coal mining creates less than 0.5% of jobs in the state.

That’s why Friday, Missoula activists called out Republican candidates for supporting the energy of the past – at the expense of public health and the economy.  Wielding a 20-foot wide banner, and singing anti-coal carols to the tunes of “Mary Had a Little Lamb” and “Take Me Out to the Ball Game,” the group marched into the parking lot of the Hilton Garden Inn where delegates were gathered outside the doors.

Put Montana on a path to clean energy, not coal.  Sign up for the Coal Export Action!

To their credit, event security let our serenaders finish a few rounds of both songs before asking them to move out to the public sidewalk.  The action certainly got the attention of convention participants, many of whom snapped pictures with cell phone cameras as the carolers sang clean energy’s praises.

Indeed, while there’s no sugarcoating the fact that Republican candidates in Montana want to condemn today’s generation to dirty coal and the runaway climate change that goes with it, the convention participants were for the most part admirably respectful of opposing views.  Some Ron Paul supporters even agreed with the message that politicians should stop holding back development of renewable technologies the could quickly displace coal.

Special thanks to the Backbone Campaign for making possible the assembly of the giant banner that made this creative action so hard to ignore.  Republican candidates for elected office have heard from us; now on to the Democrats…


About Nick


Nick is a freelance writer, climate activist, and a graduate student at the University of Montana. He got his start in activism by helping to establish a new campus recycling system at Portland Community College; since then he has organized to stop fossil fuel projects and open up space for clean energy in Oregon, Washington, and Montana. Nick is currently working with activists throughout the Greater Northwest to protect Northwest communities from coal export projects. When not in school or organizing for a clean energy future, he can be found hiking in the natural areas around Missoula, bird watching, or writing a novel.

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