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Council makes recommendations to address climate change

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ASSOCIATED PRESS

HELENA — A council appointed by Montana Gov. Steve Bullock has released a list of draft recommendations for the state to address climate change, reduce greenhouse gases and take advantage of new technology and innovations that will come from the effort.

The public has until March 31 to comment on the proposals announced Tuesday by the Montana Climate Solutions Council.

The council recommends public institutions, business and labor organizations, philanthropic groups and community leaders collaborate to implement the recommendations. Those efforts start with preparation and planning for climate effects; reducing emissions of greenhouse gases and increasing carbon storage; and identifying ways the economy can be strengthened and jobs created through efforts to mitigate the effect of carbon emissions.

Montana’s average annual temperature is increasing. Early spring runoff causes flooding, making less water available later in the year, the council said. Fire seasons are longer and more expensive, leading to health problems because of the increased smoke. The longer fire season and smoke discourage tourists, hurting the economy, the council said.

The proposals include evaluating what infrastructure might be vulnerable to the effects of climate change, such as expanding floodplains, and using active forest management to reduce the number of areas that are prone to wildfire.

It also recommends updating building efficiency standards, providing incentives to improve energy efficiency and building community-based renewable energy projects. One suggestion is to replace pre-1976 mobile homes because of their lack of energy efficiency.

The council suggests the state create tax incentives for low- and zero-emission vehicles and develop and expand electric vehicle-charging stations. That effort would include building charging stations at rest stops operated by the Montana Department of Transportation, the council said.

Montana should also use tax incentives to recruit and attract new industries that reduce carbon emissions or sequester carbon while providing well-paying jobs and increasing the tax base, the council said.

Comments may be submitted by email to ClimateCouncil@mt.gov. All comments received will be made available for public review.

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