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Tuesday, March 20, 2018

GOP candidates for Legislature just make complaints, offer no solutions

At the Ranger-Review’s candidate forum on Wednesday, Oct. 5, I saw firsthand how Republicans and Democrats approach governance.

All I heard from Republicans Alan Doane and Steve Hinebauch was how we can’t fix problems, and all I heard from Democrat Mike Ruddy was how we can. Doane said as long as there’s coal in the ground we should dig it up and burn it instead of accepting the fact that the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan will shut down Colstrip.

“We should be proud to harvest from our Earth,” he said, adding that he couldn’t see how hydroelectric power isn’t green energy. Well, it’s not green energy because building a dam displaces animals from their habitats for good, and many hydroelectric plants utilizing reservoirs release methane into the air — the same greenhouse gas released by natural gas drills and fracking, which destroys our ozone, warms and raises our waters and produces more volatile weather patterns.

“We’re not going to run these things with fairy dust and unicorn horns,” Doane said. Republican candidate for Senate District 18 Steve Hinebauch was equally pessimistic.

“I don’t see how we can save the planet when (China’s) building plants faster than we can shut them down,” he said, adding later that the state “doesn’t have a funding problem” but a spending problem. Again, providing no solutions to the monetary issues facing the state, and not stating one specific cost he would cut. 

Ruddy did something neither candidate could. He provided a solution, and while it wasn’t articulated as well as it could have been, the solution is viable. Research into molten salt reactors has taken off for good reasons. MSRs run at higher temperatures than water-cooled nuclear reactors, and can be used to dispose of nuclear waste, such as those nuclear arms sitting in leaky silos more than 50 years old out at Malmstrom Air Force Base. 

Oh yeah, and nuclear reactors are safer than coal-derived energy. According to Forbes, producing one petawatt hour (quadrillion watt hours) of energy using coal kills 170,000 people. Nuclear energy production is responsible for 90 deaths per petawatt hour.

Instead of bitching about losing the one thing Montana relies upon for revenue, Doane could have used his time in office looking into solutions that Ruddy provided on stage.

Ruddy also thought performance standards for politicians would be a good idea, and I agree.

“Instead of saying no, it can’t be done, and asking for money, find ways it can be done. If they can’t find a way to get it done, they’re not being effective, and they should lose their job,” he said.

Anthony Varriano may be reached at varriano34@gmail.com.

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