Wednesday, February 25, 2009

From the Helena Independent Record February 25, 2009:

Low carbon fuels

By Matthew Elsaesser - 02/25/2009

Every gallon we buy at the pump affects our environmental, economic and national security. A significant percentage of our transportation fuel is shipped across oceans and supports unsavory regimes. All of it emits carbon. Our choice at the pump is neither simple, nor consequence-free. Reducing these consequences starts with driving less, choosing fuel-efficient cars and trucks, and selecting the right alternative fuels. We currently have a unique opportunity to guide the development of alternative fuel in Montana. We can make a distinction between Iowa corn-based ethanol and Montana-grown biodiesel from camelina by calculating the full costs of producing and transporting the fuel.

Senate Bill 471 by Sen. Brueggeman, R-Polson, paves the way by having state government reduce the carbon intensity of its fuel purchases. This bill, which creates a Low Carbon Fuel Standard for state purchases, is the best way to determine which alternative fuels have environmental merit. It is also the best way to know if taxpayer dollars are spent on fuel from Montana or the Middle East. Fueling your car is not simple. The true costs are often hidden. The bill exposes the indirect costs to our environment and our nation's security.

Matthew Elsaesser

The S.A.V.E. Foundation

P.O. Box 1481

Thursday, February 19, 2009

S.A.V.E. Legislative Update: Green Building Codes, Low Carbon Fuels, and Recycling Updates

Greetings from The S.A.V.E. Foundation! We have had a very busy February with legislation at the Capitol and another Plastics Drive coming up at the beginning of March! Below you will find a legislative update from S.A.V.E. including gray water, green building codes, and a recycling study. Check out our Events Blog to find the most recent Medium-Speed Electric Vehicles stories. S.A.V.E. is highlighting bill SB 471, which will be in hearing tomorrow at 3pm. We are asking for your support for SB 471, establishing a Low Carbon Fuel Standard for state and contractor vehicles. Please read below to find out how you can support this bill! We recommend you visit our Legislative Page at and contact your Senators and Representatives. Thank you for your time and support!

March Plastic Drive
The next Plastics Drive will be held March 6-9th at 1100 North Last Chance Gulch from 8a-6p. We will be taking type 1 clear plastic bottles (soda, water bottles), type 2 translucent bottles (milk jugs), and type 2 solid color bottles (laundry detergent bottles). We will also be taking type 1 trays. Please remember to rinse out your containers, remove all lids, and separate the plastics by type. This ensures efficient and economical recycling. To volunteer for this event visit S.A.V.E. would like to thank our past volunteers and the following sponsors for making this event possible, The City of Helena, City County Sanitation, Pacific Steel and Recycling, and General Services of the State of Montana.

Bike to Work Tax Credit
A new tax credit available in Montana provides an incentive for employees and employers to bike to work. According to the Bozeman Daily Chronicle article, "Pedaling Pays Off," Beginning Jan. 1, employees who regularly use bicycles to get to and from work are eligible for a $20-a-month, tax-free reimbursement from the federal government through their employers for bicycle-related expenses. Employers can now deduct $20-per-employee from federal tax filings for every staff member who commutes to work regularly on a bicycle. In turn, each employee will be eligible for a $20-per-month credit on their paycheck. This is a great incentive to encourage bike-riding to work and to reduce our impact on the environment by commuting on bicycles. This is also a great way to stay in shape! To read this article follow this link:


Legislative Page at
New at is the S.A.V.E. 2009 Montana Legislative Page where users can track legislation S.A.V.E. will be following throughout the 2009 session. Also, visit this site to see who is serving in the Senate and House of Representatives committees and find ways to contact your legislators about issues you support! Read up on a few of these bills highlighted below or visit to see a list of all the bills S.A.V.E. is currently following.

Gray Water Passes the House with Flying Colors!

House Bill 285, Authorize Gray Water Use in Commercial and Multi-Family Structures, passed the House in the Second Reading with a vote of 100-0 this past Thursday! The third Reading passed the bill onto the Senate with a vote of 99-1. In the 2007 session, S.A.V.E. helped to make gray water legal for single-family homes. Gray water systems reuse the water from showers, laundry, and bathroom sinks to supply toilets or sub irrigation systems to water the lawn. Gray water is a simple technology that was commonplace on ranch houses and farms in Montana's rural ranching past, when reusing water was common sense.

Low Carbon Fuels
Senate Bill 471, which would establish low carbon fuels efficiency for state vehicles and contractors will have its first hearing on February 19th at 3pm in the Highways and Transportation Committee Room 405. This bill needs your support! Show your Representatives and Senators your support for low carbon fuels in Montana. Many other states are working on Low Carbon Fuel Standards and Montana has the opportunity to develop a program that would provide leadership and resources to many programs around the nation. A Low Carbon Fuel Standard would take into account the carbon content of fuels and consider where the fuel was produced, reducing carbon emissions from our state and fleet contractor vehicles. Accountability of carbon emissions in our fuels, including renewable, and their production is needed to reduce the amount of greenhouse gases emitted in Montana working towards cleaner air and sustainable fuels for our future generations. Low Carbon Fuels would bring significant economic benefits to rural Montana as many crops could be used to fuel not only cars in Montana but also around the nation.

Mercury Thermostat Bill
Another bill up tomorrow, February 19, is Senate Bill 424, control disposal of mercury thermometers, in the Energy and Telecommunications Committee. Mercury, found in thermometers and fluorescent lights is also a dangerous neurotoxin that has been linked to learning disabilities and developmental delays in children. Too much of it can damage the heart, nervous system or kidneys of adults. The mercury contained in thermometers and other products that wind up in the landfill have the potential to contaminate our groundwater and drinking water resources. S.A.V.E. sees this as a model for dealing with special waste working with all parties involved. We hope to see it expanded to include electronic waste and other priority items.

Local Government Incentives for Energy Conservation Standards
House Bill 420 passed unanimously out of committee this afternoon in House Local Government. This bill allows local governments to work with builders to provide incentives for green building. If the builder elects to take the incentive, the structure would be required to meet the energy conservation standard. By working with the Montana Building Industry Association(MBIA) and S.A.V.E., the sponsor was able to amend the bill to clarify that this would be a voluntary incentive and both entities could support the bill. The MBIA has a strong green building program and has already trained more than a quarter of their work force to build green ( This bill provide local governments an important, innovative tool to bring these investments forward.

SJ 28 - Recycling study resolution
SJ 28 is a joint resolution sponsored by Senator Peterson (R-Buffalo) requesting an interim study to evaluate methods for increasing recycling and solid waste recovery in Montana. Increasing recycling in Montana would benefit Montana both economically and environmentally by providing jobs and reducing energy consumption by using recycled materials and reducing landfill use. Recycling infrastructure needs to be established within rural areas and also with electronic waste and other household hazardous waste. The resolution would evaluate funding alternatives to increasing recycling and be presented to a committee designated by the Legislative Council. S.A.V.E. has recently published a Statewide Recycling Guide, which can be found at or at the Montana Green Directory.

Energy Improvement Districts
House Bill 361, Local Energy Improvement District Financing, would give Montana cities and counties the authority to create Energy Improvement Districts (EIDs). A municipality would then be able to issue bonds in order to make loans to property owners within a District for purposes of installing renewable energy systems for making energy efficiency improvements to residential, commercial, or industrial properties. The bill would create jobs for the construction and renewable energy industries, lower energy costs for homeowners, businesses, and farmers, and improve communities by enhancing private property while reducing environmental impact from energy consumption. The bill had its first hearing on February 5th in the Local Government Committee. Executive Action will be taken this week. The bill has been amended to not include electrical generation systems that could be tied to the grid as net metering or as a qualified facility.