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Gianforte ends Montana’s climate change coalition membership

July 9, 2021 GMT

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Gov. Greg Gianforte has discontinued Montana’s membership in a coalition of two dozen states dedicated to fighting climate change.

The U.S. Climate Alliance is a nonpartisan group committed to achieving the goals of the 2015 Paris Agreement and avoiding the worst impacts of climate change. Democratic former Gov. Steve Bullock joined the alliance in 2019. The alliance is made up of nearby Western states, including Colorado, Washington and Oregon.

Evan Westrup, of the U.S. Climate Alliance, said Gianforte did not respond to the organization’s invitation to continue Montana’s membership, Montana public radio reported.

Gianforte spokesperson Brooke Stroyke said in a statement that the governor believes the solution to climate change is unleashing American innovation, not overbearing government mandates. She added that the Paris Agreement punishes the U.S., while letting countries like China off the hook.

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Stroyke didn’t respond to requests to clarify Gianforte’s climate goals, or what sort of innovation is necessary in Montana.

Amy Cilimburg, executive director of Climate Smart Missoula, said the state needs more than innovation.

“The U.S. Climate Alliance was not some kind of a radical group, it was governors realizing that we’re stronger together, that energy transmission lines cross state boundaries, that watersheds cross state boundaries, that wildfire smoke crosses state boundaries, and we’re only gonna be resilient if we work together. And so we’re not at the table, and that is really frustrating,” Cilimburg says.

Cilimburg was part of a council under then-governor Bullock that produced a climate solutions plan released in 2020 that set goals for the state.

A representative of the Montana Department of Environmental Quality said the Gianforte administration has not offered guidance yet on how to handle the climate solutions plan.