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Montana politics, elections and legislative news

State Public Service Commission Votes Against Forum On Climate Change

Three seats are up for reelection on the Public Service Commission.
Montana Public Service Commission
Montana Public Service Commission
Three seats are up for reelection on the Public Service Commission.

State Public Service Commission Votes Against Forum On Climate ChangeThe commission that regulates energy in Montana shot down a proposal on Apr. 7 to sponsor a forum that would have discussed climate change as a man-made phenomenon.

Roger Koopman, who represents southwest Montana for the Public Service Commission, wrote and introduced the proposal for the PSC to host a two-day forum to examine CO2 caused climate change.

Koopman described himself and the commission as tending toward climate change skepticism and wrote in his proposal that the forum would help inform commissioners as they consider potential carbon tax and avoided cost proposals.

“And I believe it benefits the commission to listen not to political spokesmen which always have a lot to say about these matters, but to scientific experts representing a full range of divergent opinion in these vital, really, rate-impacting, policy-impacting questions,” Koopman Says.

Koopman wrote that he imagined the forum as a two-day event with witness testimonies submitted beforehand, opportunities for cross-examination and a final report to be sent to public service commissioners nationwide.

The proposal failed 3-2 with commissioners Brad Johnson, Bob Lake and Randy Pinocci against. Lake said he opposed the motion because he’s concerned about the appearance of bias, as the PSC is a regulatory agency.

Koopman in the past has written op eds casting doubt on man-made climate change and, in 2019, a solar energy development successfully sued the PSC for bias against renewable energy.

Koopman's term as commissioner is coming to an end.

An independent community member and a member of the environmental advocacy organization Northern Plains gave public comment in support of holding the forum.

Copyright 2020 Yellowstone Public Radio

Kayla Desroches reports for Yellowstone Public Radio in Billings. She was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, and stayed in the city for college, where she hosted a radio show that featured serialized dramas like the Shadow and Suspense. In her pathway to full employment, she interned at WNYC in New York City and KTOO in Juneau, Alaska. She then spent a few years on the island of Kodiak, Alaska, where she transitioned from reporter to news director before moving to Montana.
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