Helenans rally in show of statewide support for climate change solutions – Helena Independent, Record April 27, 2014

April 28, 2014

Categories: Climate change, Events, Fossil Fuels, News



By Julie Baughman

Dozens of Helenans gathered on the Capitol steps Saturday as part of a statewide movement urging state and federal officials to take action against climate change.

Rallies supporting Montanans for Climate Solutions took place in 13 communities across the state Saturday in an effort to raise awareness about and discuss solutions for the global climate crisis.

“It’s sort of a grassroots, organic coming together of citizens,” said Andres Haladay, a Helena city commissioner and master of ceremonies for the Helena rally.

“It’s time to get serious about protecting our planet,” he said. “We want to see solutions coming out of the state and Washington (D.C.).

“Today is to look at the positive solutions,” Haladay said.

Clad in colorful rain jackets, some participants held picket signs featuring sayings like “Power Past Fossil Fuels” and “A Solar Spill Is A Nice Day.”

A number of state and community advocacy groups were present at the event, including Montana Environmental Information Center, a main sponsor; Solar Montana; and the Sleeping Giant Citizens Council.

Shiloh Hernandez, chair of the Sleeping Giant Citizens Council, said he helped organize the Helena rally and saw the event as an important opportunity to spread the word about the solutions to climate change, not just the problems associated with it.

“It’s to raise awareness,” he said. “Our broad goal is to get some movement on the climate crisis.”

He noted that the United States is quickly falling behind other nations in the effort to reduce carbon footprints and decrease pollution.

“Forty years ago, when the first Earth Day occurred, we were the leader (in environmental protection),” Hernandez said. “Now, today we’re really the lagger. It’s pretty embarrassing.

“It’s not going to break the bank, the technology exists,” he said. “It’s super frustrating.”

He said he was pleased with the amount of people who were willing to brave Saturday’s cold, wet weather to voice their opinions, sign petitions and spread the news.

Stephenie Ambrose Tubbs and Carla Potter didn’t let the rain stop them from attending the rally and holding signs supporting clean energy.

“I’m a member of MEIC, and I support their actions,” Tubbs said. “I knew actions are happening all over the state.”

She said she is fed up with people ignoring research from scientists that suggests a rapid deterioration of the Earth’s climate could be imminent.

“People cannot put their heads in the sand anymore,” she said. “Change is hard, but we have to do it.

“We do not have 100 years,” Tubbs said.

Potter said she was there to protest the expansion of the coal industry, particularly the increasing number of massive coal trains traveling through the state.

“Why would you risk the environment … by not doing anything about it,” she said when asked why she attended the rally.

“I’m really upset about the coal,” she said. “It takes three weeks to get there (to China) and one week for the pollution to get back.”

Jim Emerson and his wife also attended the event in an effort to help, “trying to get the climate cleaned up, and stop the coal exports.”

He said he wants to encourage homeowners to look at energy-efficient ways to build and maintain their residences.

“Insulations for homes, cars that are more gas efficient,” Emerson said. “Have windows that are insulated, things like that.”

In addition to discussing their views on climate change, attendees were also asked to sign a petition to be submitted to the governor requesting legislative action against climate change.

“It’s basically a description that we recognize climate change as a problem and here are some solutions,” said Derf Johnson, the MEIC representative who helped organize the rally.

Additionally, Johnson said another petition requests that the Department of Environmental Quality issue fines against Pennsylvania Power and Light for polluting drinking water with runoff from their plant in Colstrip.

He said he hopes to work with the sponsors of Saturday’s rally to plan more events in the future.

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