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Environment & Science

Renewable Energy Missing from Montana Energy Conference says NPRC

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Jackie Yamanaka
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A wet, spring snowstorm did not deter about 60 people to a rally on the Yellowstone County Courthouse lawn to tout renewable energy.

The event, sponsored by the Northern Plains Resource Council, was scheduled to coincide with Senator Steve Daines’ Montana Energy Conference.

“We’re very unique in that we truly do have an all-of-the-above energy portfolio,” said Daines in remarks to employees at the CHS Refinery in Laurel.

The Republican kicked off a week long energy tour across Montana before the conference. This included a community meeting in Colstrip and a visit to a wind farm.

But those at the rally  think the Montana Energy Conference is focusing too much on coal and not enough on clean-energy.

“If you are truly interested in an above all energy policy we need to talk,” says Ben Reed, owner of Winpower West. “You’re definitely missing out when you’re not talking to renewable energy.”

The former professor of economic and finance says society embraces new technologies. He says there were no policy fights on moving from horse and buggy to automobiles or from typewriters to computers. Reed wants tell Daines moving away from coal to renewables is no different.

“Let’s sit down and have let’s have a conversation about real jobs growth and real energy independence for the United States of America.”

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Credit Jackie Yamanaka
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A lone proponent of clean energy stands on the sidewalk near the Yellowstone County Courthouse on N. 27th Street with a sign in support of clean energy. Behind him about 60 others gathered with their handmade signs to listen to speakers talk about the need to embrace renewable energy.

Renewable Energy is on the agenda at the three-day Montana Energy Conference. Most of the sessions, however, are on oil, coal, and the electricity and transmission market.

Editor's note:  after this story was produced for air a spokeswoman for U.S. Senator Steve Daines, R-MT, submitted this written comment to YPR:  "Unfortunately NPRC has a radical agenda that is opposed to many forms of Montana energy that are responsible for high paying Montana jobs. Senator Daines is focused on promoting all forms of Montana energy and saving the Montana jobs NPRC would destroy."