A Clean Energy Economy for Montana: Building Rural Communities Through Renewable Resources Development

Issue Paper
August 20, 2010

Montana, the fourth-largest state, is known as "Big Sky" country for its extensive vistas. Rich in natural resources and fertile land, Montana has a historically stable and increasingly diverse economy. Montana can use its bountiful renewable resources to build a strong long-term economy and secure a prosperous future for the 21st century. Vast areas of land, a multitude of wind energy sites, and a capable workforce combine to give Montana the potential to become a national leader in producing clean energy.

The global economic downturn has been felt across the state, with the number of unemployed Montanans climbing by 69 percent since the beginning of 2008. Taking advantage of these opportunities for renewable energy development would create tens of thousands of new Montana jobs and give a big boost to rural communities across the state. Instead of sending more Montana dollars out of state to pay for fossil-fueled energy, Montana could become a key supplier of homegrown renewable energy and the tools to produce it -- provided that national policies are enacted to spur the development of clean energy resources.