Commentary

One Giant Step for Fish

It took only two weeks for a rainbow trout to demonstrate the value of removing the Milltown Dam outside of Missoula. As Western Progress' Pat Williams writes in High Country News , the trout's journey upstream past the site of the dam "symbolizes the promises of tomorrow," for Montana and the West as environmental restoration projects bring new vitality to western rivers, landscapes and economies.


Montana's Metcalf blazed his own trail

Lee Metcalf died 30 years ago this month. His life represented political and policy "change" the very thing now being pursued by candidates and voters alike.

With momentum cresting in this presidential primary season, the watchword is "change.” In both parties the overriding theme seems to be how to make government more relevant to the lives of the citizen, and on the Democratic side, hundreds of thousands of both independent and younger voters seem to be propelling the candidates toward a remodeling, restyling or, perhaps, a revolution of sorts in the way the federal government responds to our desires.

Why Energy Dollars Leave Coal in the Dust

By the end of 2007, plans for 59 coal-fired power plants across the country were cancelled or seriously delayed, in large part due to a rapidly growing weariness among prospective investors. Just when King Coal was looking invincible, the canary in the coal mine stopped singing and the big bucks began bailing.

Citing concern over the cost of future carbon regulations that are expected from Congress perhaps within the year, many of the banking industry’s heavy hitters have begun seeking more economically secure ventures.

However, not waiting for Washington’s inevitable carbon cap, three Wall Street powerhouse investment banks n Citigroup, Inc., J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. and Morgan Stanley n have just released their own set of environmental standards placing the onus on utilities to prove that their coal-fired plants are economically viable even under future, stricter government regulations. This move stands to make securing funds for future coal-fired plants extremely difficult.

Coal, nuclear not the future. We must look to alternative fuels.

If our nation is going to subsidize energy development, it makes sense to focus those subsidies on energy efficiency and renewable energy — not new, expensive conventional energy sources that only increase our addiction to oil while dangerously polluting the atmosphere. The answers to the world's, and America's, energy and climate challenges won't come from the people who propose to invest more and more in the direction we have already gone. The best answers will come from options that create real opportunities for new, sustainable and low-impact alternatives like renewables and efficiency.

Western Progress Board Member Ned Farquhar, a nationally recognized energy expert, counters "business as usual" conventional energy stands. Click here to read Farquhar's full commentary.

Sen. Domenici Hurts Energy Plans

New Mexico Sen. Pete Domenici helped lead an effort in the Senate to block a requirement that utilities produce a set percentage of their power from renewable sources such as wind and solar. In doing so, he's failing to represent his state and region, writes Western Progress board member Ned Farquhar.


Current immigration law and the western economy

We see an almost total disconnect between real life in our Rocky Mountain region, especially its economic future, and the current U.S. immigration law.

What lead us into this vexing Catch 22?

The existing statute reflects an East Coast take on what the nation needed 30 years ago. Amendments since have focused on enforcement with no attention paid to either the need for labor in industries key to western economies or the needs of undocumented workers who have provided that labor in increasing numbers, but outside the current law.

There is a very good reason 12 million people, approximately 3 million in the Rocky Mountain states, are living and working outside the current legal immigration structure.

They can’t be legal.

Fly-Over Country

People here in the states of the Rocky Mountain West are on the cusp of significant renewed national attention and influence. The public policy ideas of the West are reclaiming national recognition.For too long ­ perhaps more than 25 years the West was fly-over country.

Pat Williams speaks at City Year.

Pat Williams, Western Progress’ northern region director, addressed the annual banquet for City Year in Seattle on May 24. City Year engages volunteers, ages 17 to 24, in national service and is a descendant of the American Conservation Corps legislation, which former Congressman Williams introduced in 1981 in the U.S. House of Representatives. Read a condensation of Williams’ remarks to 600 people at City Year Seattle’s annual dinner.

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