There’s a bill working its way through the Legislature that will change the rules for developing nuclear power in Montana. House Bill 273 aims to overturn Initiative 80, Montana’s law about building nuclear power plants in Montana. I-80 requires safety measures and gives Montana Citizens the right to vote yes or no if someone wants to build a nuclear power plant in our state.
Why overturn this law that has been in effect for 40 years? The proponents say, “The majority of the folks who voted for the initiative did not know what they were voting for.” And “We’re not even overturning the will of the people when the people did not know what they were voting for.” These statements are incorrect.
There was a huge outpouring of money from giant power companies aimed at defeating I-80, but nevertheless Montana voters approved the initiative with a whopping 65% of the vote. Montanans knew what they were voting for. I spent many hours going door to door talking to people about the initiative and listening to what people had to say. People were aware of the risks of siting a nuclear facility in the state and knew a nuclear accident could have catastrophic consequences. Most people figured it would be ordinary people like us who live here who would suffer from an accident, and it would be us who would pay for the cleanup. People knew exactly what they were voting for: nuclear safeguards and the right to have a say in the nuclear future of Montana.
Initiative 80 was a good law when it was voted in and it’s a good law now. If someone wants to build a nuclear power plant here, they should play by the rules set up by the people.
Bozeman Daily Chronicle Letter to the Editor 4/3/21