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Policy Brief: Climate Change and Montana: A Scientific Assessment

November 7, 2019

Montana has warmed very little during the past century, and not at all during the past 15 years.

Montana Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock signed on July 1, 2019, an executive order creating the Montana Climate Solutions Council.1 Bullock charged the council with preparing the state for climate change impacts and devising a plan to reach net-zero carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by 2035. This paper provides Montana-specific climate information to help educate lawmakers so they can craft the best possible climate-related policies on behalf of the people of Montana.

Bullock’s executive order claimed that “climate change poses a serious threat to Montana’s natural resources, public health, communities, and economy.” To support this assertion, the executive order cites a publication titled 2017 Montana Climate Assessment (MCA). According to the executive order, the MCA found “annual average temperatures in the state have risen 2 to 3 degrees Fahrenheit since 1950 at approximately double the rate of the nation as a whole, and are projected to increase 4.5 to 6.0 degrees Fahrenheit by mid-century and 5.6 to 9.8 degrees Fahrenheit by the end of the century.”

MCA paints an overly alarmist and misleading picture of recent, current, and future climate changes in Montana. This Policy Brief aims to put the Montana climate picture in a more accurate perspective.

James Taylor is Director of the Arthur B. Robinson Center for Climate and Environmental Policy at The Heartland Institute.
Anthony Watts is a senior fellow for environment and climate at The Heartland Institute. @wattsupwiththat