Montana Voices: Trump administration failing to protect Montana’s environment

By Bill Geer and Juanita Vero

The first 100 days of the Trump administration have come and gone, and since the start of his presidency, President Trump has engaged in a troubling barrage of ruthless attacks on core Montana values of conservation, stewardship and simple commonsense.

Together, we lead the boards of directors for grassroots organizations with tens of thousands of active Montana members. These folks are hunters, anglers, farmers, ranchers, recreationists, business owners, moms, dads and grandparents – and with their support, we work to preserve the landscapes, traditions and cultures that drive our economy that make Montana a healthy and productive place to call home.

Our members, like most of us, cherish Montana for some pretty simple but profound reasons: Montana allows us the freedom, space and opportunity to live a life of our choosing, to raise our families in supportive, safe and healthy communities, to thrive in our chosen careers and enjoy an unmatched quality of life.

Montanans understand that in order for our communities to prosper, we need to uphold our constitutional right to a “clean and healthful environment.”  Montana has witnessed the devastating effects of pollution over the years.  Look no further than what happened in Butte, Anaconda, Libby or Livingston to see the impacts of allowing private interests to pollute our communities and threaten the health of families.

Polluted air harms our kids the most, causing asthma and other severe respiratory diseases at alarmingly high rates.  Polluted water threatens not just the ability of irrigators to grow crops, but the health of every single person living or working in Montana.

By any measure, Trump’s first 100 days were a complete and utter failure when it comes to protecting what makes Montana special. Virtually all of Trump’s environmental actions have put the health of our families and communities at greater risk from dangerous pollution in our air, toxic chemicals in our water and unchecked climate change.

Climate change has the potential to alter everything we know and love about Montana.  The evidence isn’t just found in supercomputer algorithms or research labs.  We can see evidence all around, all year long: Our precipitation patters are shifting, our summers are becoming hotter, snowpack is less predictable, invasive species are attacking our crops and plaguing our rivers, and extreme weather is costing farmers and families alike.

The economic impact of climate change on the economy could be devastating, costing Montana’s climate-sensitive industries of agriculture, outdoor recreation and tourism almost a TRILLION dollars and 30,000 jobs by mid-century. The science is clear, and the impacts warrant swift action to address this urgent threat.

Yet the Trump administration has already rolled back life-saving climate change safeguards, hidden taxpayer-funded research from the public, and proposed massive cuts to programs aimed at protecting American families – all while launching bewildering attacks on clean energy and the economic promise it holds.

Further, as President Trump weighs pulling the United States out of the landmark Paris Climate Agreement and ceding our status as a leader on global issues, other countries are charging ahead. The United States risks not only becoming a country that does not honor our commitments, but losing out on the economic opportunities in building a global clean energy industry.

These actions by the Trump administration are dangerous. The impacts of climate change – like extreme weather, changing precipitation patterns leading to more occurrences of both flooding and drought – hit small outdoor-oriented businesses from farms to fly-shops the hardest.

On behalf our members, our families and all concerned Montanans, we urge President Trump to embrace the opportunities of clean energy and lead the world toward clean economies.

Bill Geer is the new president of the Montana Wildlife Federation and Juanita Vero chairs the Montana Conservation Voters’ board of directors.