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Listen to young Republicans; support a market-based solution for clean energy

| November 15, 2020 12:00 AM

Montana had a record turnout at the recent general election with over 80% of voters casting ballots. Young voter enthusiasm was at record levels in 2020 across the country. Though the Republican Party dominates Montana politics, it is still prone to the nationwide trend where Millennial and Gen-Z Republicans are leaving their party when they do not find scientific reality in their platform.

Though I am “old” to you, the 40-and-under Republican crowd, I have read about you and very much like what I hear. You understand the science behind climate change, want protection for the environment, and want to prioritize alternative energy sources. And, you want Congress to take action on climate change with market-focused solutions that will grow our economy.

In a recent poll by Luntz Global, 75% of Republicans under 40 supported putting a price on carbon pollution and giving regular dividends to households.

Most Republicans, including newly elected state Rep. Braxton Mitchell of Columbia Falls, who is all of 20, cherish our free market system. And, Wall Street agrees. As I write this, votes are still being counted but it has emerged there is potential for a continued Republican-controlled Senate which could block taxes and regulations. As a result, the stock market surged today!

A market-based bipartisan carbon dividends solution to climate change, rather than a regulation-only or a government tax solution, will be durable so we can get the job done without an “undoing” in future administrations.

Many Republican and nonpartisan organizations are advocating for bipartisan carbon dividends policies. Some of these include Students for Carbon Dividends, Young Conservatives for Carbon Dividends, republicEN, and Citizens’ Climate Lobby. Citizens’ Climate Lobby advocates for the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividends Act (HR763) which has been introduced to Congress.

Montana exports about 45% of the electricity it generates, mostly from burning coal, but is facing a quick decline in demand as out-of-state customers seek to meet renewable energy standards. With the Energy Innovation Act, capital investment will surge towards clean energy creating good, well-paying jobs for Montanans. The monthly dividend will support our local communities and is good for the economy.

In our transition to clean energy, workers will be needed to upgrade our electrical transmission system with both capacity and smart grid technology. New technical careers will keep young Montanans close to the home they love. Wind, solar, and storage facilities will need to be constructed. And, we’ll still need experienced fossil fuel industry workers for the decommissioning and cleaning up of last century technology. These same experienced workers will also have the expertise for building out our transmission structure and hooking up all the new energy sources.

How do we make this happen? Our elected officials need to know we support transitioning Montana to clean energy. Call or write Representative and Governor-elect Gianforte, and Senators Daines and Tester and ask them to endorse HR763 for the great benefit it will bring to Montana. And when you congratulate Representative-elect Rosendale, be sure to ask him too.

Let’s turn the page and get moving on a prosperous clean energy future for Montana, especially for our young people.

Robin L. Paone is a volunteer with Citizens’ Climate Lobby. She lives in Whitefish.