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Montana is Revisiting Discussions on Carbon Sequestration

ExxonMobil Carbon Capture Project In Montana Draws Public Criticism (Credits: Billings Gazette)

The concept of “clean coal” and carbon sequestration has resurfaced in Montana with Denbury’s proposed CO2 sequestration project, Snowy River. Despite being focused on pulling CO2 from natural gas processing facilities rather than coal plants, this project has reignited discussions about carbon management technologies in the state.

While there are echoes of past hurdles that stalled carbon sequestration efforts, such as permitting challenges and legal uncertainties, there are also indications of a shifting landscape. Laws, regulations, and tax code changes create incentives for carbon management projects, aligning with the Biden administration’s climate agenda.

Montana (Credits: Wikipedia)

However, residents in Carter County, where Snowy River is proposed, have raised concerns about various issues, including environmental impacts, seismic activity, and water quality. This skepticism and the broader context of carbon management’s role in mitigating climate change shape discussions and decisions around projects like Snowy River.

The Fossil Happenings

As Wyoming also focuses on carbon management to sustain fossil fuel industries, stakeholders in Montana are observing developments in neighboring states for insights before any concrete steps are taken on projects like Snowy River. The public has until April 17 to comment on the Bureau of Land Management regarding the Snowy River project.

Flathead County has set May 7 as the Election Day for a court-directed redo of the November 2023 municipal contests for two Kalispell city council seats.

This decision comes after a clerical error in last fall’s election led to at least 176 voters receiving and casting incorrect ballots. As a result, the county sought permission from a Flathead County District Court judge to redo two of the four city council races, which was granted last month.

Mail-in ballots for the new city council election will be sent to active absentee voters on April 22. Additionally, polls will be open on May 7 from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the Flathead County Fairgrounds Expo building. On the same day, there will also be elections for local school boards and special districts in Flathead County conducted through all-mail ballots.

Next Trends

The campaign for a constitutional amendment to protect abortion rights in Montana is on the verge of launching a signature-gathering effort after resolving legal issues. Secretary of State Christi Jacobsen provided the final ballot language to the initiative sponsors eight minutes before a court-ordered deadline.

However, the Montanans Securing Reproductive Rights (MSRR) sponsor group identified at least one error on the state’s form and planned to request an updated version.

The Montana Supreme Court (Credits: Border Crossing Law Firm)

Despite these challenges, MSRR expressed satisfaction with the progress, stating that Montana voters deserve a say on this critical issue. The Montana Supreme Court ruled that signature gathering could proceed without waiting for a legislative review, ensuring the initiative could move forward on a tight timeline to qualify for the fall ballot.

Republican lawmakers objected to the court’s decision and issued a subpoena to Secretary Jacobsen for the initiative’s details. Despite this, Jacobsen’s office stated its commitment to complying with the law and fulfilling both the court’s order and the legislative subpoena.

MSRR now has until June 21 to gather over 60,000 verified signatures from registered voters across 40 state House districts to qualify for the ballot initiative.

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