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At the Montana Chamber of Commerce, we are deeply concerned by recent developments in federal energy policies that threaten our state’s power supply and economic vitality. Our concerns are centered around the consequences of secret commitments recently made by the U.S. government through a closed-door negotiation over the Columbia River hydropower system. Behind those closed doors, decisions with far-reaching consequences were made— a process that will increase electricity costs for the nearly 150,000 homes and businesses in western Montana who rely on those federal hydroelectric dams and has the potential to jeopardize the reliability of our electrical grid.

The decisions made today on the future viability of those hydro projects will have a direct impact on the lives and livelihoods of these Montanans. Alarmingly, the State of Montana and its business and resident public power ratepayers, who will bear the brunt of these decisions, were sidelined in what should have been an inclusive process. The gravity of this responsibility cannot be overstated and we, as the Montana Chamber of Commerce, refuse to turn a blind eye to the potential disenfranchisement of our communities. A sustainable energy future requires the input and collaboration of all stakeholders, and we urge our elected officials to ensure that the voices of Montana businesses and communities are heard.

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