FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, October 5, 2020
Rather than working to protect Montana’s public lands all the time, Daines only does so out of political necessity. It’s clear that Daines is just looking out for his corporate donors, not us.
The Intercept: In Key Election for Climate, Sen. Steve Daines Deceives Montana on His Public Lands Record
By: Alleen Brown
“With the House of Representatives likely to remain under a Democratic majority, a handful of close Senate races, like the one in Montana, are poised to define the U.S.’s climate change policies.
“If Biden and Harris win the White House, we need to net three Senate seats in order to flip to a pro-environment majority,” said League of Conservation Voters National Press Secretary Emily Samsel, referring to the Democratic presidential ticket of Joe Biden and Sen. Kamala Harris of California. “Montana is one of our best opportunities to net a pro-environment Senate seat. The race is neck and neck with most polls showing it within the margin of error.”
Daines is betting the race against Bullock on convincing Montanans that he will protect the state’s iconic lands and waters. His campaign ads feature sweeping images of Montana’s spectacular mountains and rivers and snapshots of the senator’s fishing and hiking trips. Daines has repeatedly touted his recent role in passing a law providing permanent funding for the popular Land and Water Conservation Fund, which uses money from offshore oil production to pay for conservation projects.
But much of the senator’s record undermines his claims of protecting public lands. In years when he wasn’t running a tough reelection campaign, he voted against reauthorization for the LWCF and to cut its funds. Nothing, however, reveals the senator’s shortcomings on the environment like his refusal to address the climate crisis, instead working to serve the industries hastening it.
Enter the “forest management” trope, a favorite theme throughout Daines’s Senate tenure. He has repeatedly blamed “environmental extremists” for wildfires, claiming that without environmental groups’ lawsuits, “tree thinning” could benefit the timber industry while simultaneously quelling the fires — a win-win situation.
It’s a scenario that does not match reality, said Cathy Whitlock, director of Montana State University’s Paleoecology Lab and lead author of the landmark Montana Climate Assessment. “It’s really easy to say that our forests are mismanaged, and that is the cause of these fires, but that’s just not true,” she told The Intercept. “These large fires are climate-driven.”
In contrast to Bullock, Daines supported Pendley’s appointment as recently as 2019, but declared that he was undecided on Pendley’s nomination as the acting BLM director’s popularity sank.
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