Battle for the Senate: Montana and North Dakota

These two coal-producing states may determine the balance of power in 2019.

Montana and North Dakota are two must-win states for the Democrats. Both states went heavily for Trump. The environmental stakes are large.

Montana: Tester v. Rosendale. The incumbent is Jon Tester (D), with an 86% lifetime League of Conservation Voters (LCV) score. Montana gets 54% of its power from coal and 40% from renewables (33% hydro). His opponent is state auditor Matt Rosendale, who won his primary with heavy support from conservative groups and figures such as Ted Cruz.

Tester’s website does not directly discuss renewable energy or climate change. He does endorse the XL Pipeline, but he also touts his commitment to protecting public lands. In particular, he points to his his role in passing the Rocky Mountain Front Heritage Act and the North Fork Protection Act – “landmark pieces of legislation drafted by Montanans and introduced by Jon to protect Montana’s iconic landscapes and access to public lands.”

Rosendale’s website also comes out in favor of protecting public lands and touts his record as a member of the state public land board. But it also says:

 “I’ll fight back against the Washington bureaucrats who put up gates and lock us out from accessing our public lands and I’ll take on the radical environmentalists who sue to shut down the proper management of our forests. Watching our forests burn every summer isn’t smart policy and I’ll fight to bring much needed reform for more state and local management.”

The LCV accuses Rosendale of receiving thousands of dollars in oil royalties from the Texas billionaires who are the largest private landowners in the state, and whose interests he has promoted.

North Dakota: Heitkamp v. Cramer. The incumbent, Heidi Heitkamp (D), has a 50% lifetime LCV score. North Dakota is a big coal state, but it’s not necessarily hostile to renewables. Her opponent is Rep. Kevin Cramer, with a lifetime LCV score of 1%. So, despite her lukewarm environmental views, she is still almost fifty points more favorable to the environment than he is.

Heitkamp’s website presents her as an advocate of “commonsense solutions” and a strong supporter in the Senate for both the XL Pipeline and tax credits for wind and alternative energy.

Cramer’s website emphasizes his anti-environmentalism. He says he “continue[s] to enthusiastically push for rollback of onerous federal regulations,” and on the topic of energy he reiterates that he’ll “ fight to prevent out-of-control Federal bureaucrats from creating regulatory roadblocks that cost jobs and deter investment as they work to hamper our energy sector.” Similarly, he opposes the Obama Administration’s Waters of the United States rule as “an unconstitutional power grab by the federal government” with “serious implications particularly for the agriculture and energy sectors in North Dakota.”



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About Dan

Dan Farber has written and taught on environmental and constitutional law as well as about contracts, jurisprudence and legislation. Currently at Berkeley Law, he has al…

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