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Current Events: Missoula County, city working on climate change issues

2019 Missoula Climate Change March
Posted at 10:50 AM, Oct 11, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-11 12:50:39-04

MISSOULA — This week’s edition of Current Events with Martin Kidston, the founding editor of the Missoula Current takes a look at home the City of Missoula and Missoula County are trying to deal with climate change on a local level.

“The city had been dabbling in dealing with climate change quite a bit before that, but in 2019 there was a very sizable climate march in Missoula on the Day of Action. It drew hundreds of people to downtown Missoula, students from Hellgate High School, and other students and activists from around the region,” Kidston explained. “They came to downtown that day and demanded action on the state and local levels to address what they saw as a critical issue at that point in time. That was in 2019, in March, and later that year the city and county came together and came together and adopted a goal of reaching 100% clean energy by 2035 and a goal to reach carbon neutrality by 2030. Those are sizable plans and those are lofty goals. The time is ticking as we speak."

Missoula County officials recently reached out to Montana’s Congressional delegation.

“Last month the county wrote a letter to Montana's congressional delegation, asking them to work more expediently on issues relating to climate change -- specifically asking the delegation to support parts of the spending bill now before Congress,” Kidston said. “The county contends it is taking action but it can't do it alone and needs support from the federal government and the state. They claim this legislation will help create jobs and therefore help them fight climate change. They argue that there is not a lot of time to dilly dally and they need to be implemented. At this point in time, I'm not sure if the [county] has received a response. We'll see what happens with the spending bill."

2019 Missoula Climate Change March

“And another issue that is out there worth watching is the City of Missoula, the County of Missoula, and the cities of Bozeman and Helena have all teamed up and worked with Northwest Energy to create a green tariff,” Kidston continued. “That could become significant if it comes to fruition. That's been going on for a couple of months now. We'll see where that goes."

It appears that county and city officials have pretty much the same goals in mind and are working together on the issue.

“They are pretty much holding hands on this on the major issues, especially 100% clean electricity, and carbon neutrality. This week, the county got ahead of the city, saying they are going to adopt a Carbon Neutrality team. That's something new on the county's front and something the city hasn't done yet, at least to my knowledge,” Kidston said.

“The Carbon Neutrality team will look at what the city and county have done, and look at what still needs to be done. A recent carbon emissions plan found that at least half of the emissions came from buildings and facilities. You still have at least 19% came from employees commute and about 27% came from other emissions and 6% that came from water and wastewater operations. Reigning that in and reducing your carbon footprint is going to be challenging. They are going to be looking for ways to do that.”