Home Posts This Governor Backed Out Of A Climate Agreement, And Now He's Pleading For Drought Relief.
This Governor Backed Out Of A Climate Agreement, And Now He's Pleading For Drought Relief.
Climate Change

This Governor Backed Out Of A Climate Agreement, And Now He's Pleading For Drought Relief.


Montana's Republican governor has stated unequivocally that his state will not contribute to the fight against climate change, but he still wants federal assistance to deal with the consequences of climate change.

Gov. Greg Gianforte withdrew Montana from a bipartisan coalition of more than two dozen states committed to upholding the goals of the Paris climate agreement, which include net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, according to Brooke Stroyke, a spokesperson for Gianforte, who told Montana Public Radio that the governor believes that innovation, not government regulation, is the solution to climate change.

Two days later, Gianforte asked the U.S. Department of Agriculture to declare a drought emergency in his state, allowing farmers who have suffered losses to access emergency funds.

“Data from the US Drought Monitor now show that all counties in Montana are experiencing abnormally dry to extreme drought conditions, and the situation is worsening,” Gianforte tweeted.

The U.S. Drought Monitor now shows that all counties in Montana are experiencing abnormally dry to extreme drought conditions, and the situation is worsening. I continue to call on the @USDA to declare all of Montana a drought disaster area. pic.twitter.com/UmHK8f8M1f — Governor Greg Gianforte (@GovGianforte) July 10, 2021

Climate change is exacerbating heat waves and droughts around the world, making them more frequent and extreme, and the hot, dry conditions are fueling early-season wildfires in Montana.

Gianforte also shared a tweet from the state's fire protection program about dangerous fire conditions in western Montana, writing, "Let's work together to reduce the burden on our first responders and use extreme caution when working and recreating outdoors."

Taking the climate threat seriously is one way to reduce the burden on wildland firefighters, as wildfires are expected to become more severe as climate change raises temperatures and exacerbates drought.

Instead, Gianforte has blamed wildfires on “frivolous lawsuits from environmental extremists” and dismissed the scientific consensus that humans are the primary drivers of global climate change in letters to at least two constituents while a member of Congress, writing that “the climate has been changing for millennia” and that “while the climate is changing, we still do not know how much of that is due to humans.”

The executive director of the conservation nonprofit Montana Wildlife Federation, Frank Szollosi, said Gianforte's actions show "cognitive dissonance" and that leaving the bipartisan governors' alliance is "an abdication of state leadership."

“Rivers in Montana are drying up this year, fisheries are being impacted, forest fires are displacing wildlife, and there is wildlife mortality — to say nothing of the personal property impact,” Szollosi said.

Gianforte's wildfire message is as simplistic and incomplete as Smokey Bear's, the Forest Service icon who has told Americans for decades that "Only YOU can prevent wildfires" without discussing the benefits of natural fire on ecosystems or how climate change is impacting infernos.

Stardia's request for comment from Gianforte's office was not immediately returned Monday.

It's easy to see how withdrawing from a bipartisan climate coalition and abandoning its goals endangers Montana residents, including the agricultural producers Gianforte is now pleading with the federal government to help.

“This drought did not happen overnight, and if the current drought and the last decade of extreme weather across the country don’t convince you that we’re in a crisis right now and that we need to take bold action to avert disaster today and in the future, then you’re cementing the risk for the communities in your state,” Michael Kelly, director of communications at Clean Water Action, said via email.

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