Bozeman Daily Chronicle: Tester talks climate, other issues in first in-person town hall since start of pandemic

by Alex Miller

Climate change, livability and veterans issues were big topics at Democratic Sen. Jon Tester’s first in-person town hall since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Tester held the town hall at the new Public Safety Center in Bozeman Thursday. Close to 100 people were in attendance, and Tester fielded a variety of questions from the audience that touched on rising tensions around the globe, reproductive health, affordable housing and renewable energy.

The opening question of the forum touched on a topic that would be repeated again: the effect of climate change on the future of livability, and whether it is too late to push back against a warming planet.

Tester said that climate was a massive issue. He said that work done in the Inflation Reduction Act, which includes tax credits for solar panels, electric vehicles and, according to an analysis by the Office of Management and Budget, could cut the costs of climate change by $1.9 trillion by 2050.

The new law aims to invest nearly $370 billion in climate action and programs. Tester lauded the bill as making “giant steps on the renewable energy front.”

“Was it big enough for some now? Was it too big for others? Yes,” Tester said. “But the matter of fact was it’s a step forward and it’s the first step I think we’ve taken since I’ve been in the Senate that could actually make a difference.”

Tester said that the issue of climate change needed to be approached in every way. For example, he supports investing “serious public dollars” into research and development that could create energy that is carbon free and affordable.

The senator acknowledged that there are barriers to robust spending for research and development, and said that change, especially to renewables could be difficult.

“It’s going to take a little bit of time, but time is of the essence here,” Tester said.

Another audience member asked how Tester would vote on a controversial ballot measure, LR-131 in November.

That measure, known as the Born Alive Infant Protection Act, intends to impose penalties on health care providers that do not provide “medically appropriate and reasonable actions” to save the life of a baby.

The measure defines a “born alive” infant as a baby that breathes, has a heartbeat or movement of its extremities — that includes infants born during an attempted abortion.

Penalties under the measure, should it pass, include a fine of up to $50,000, 20 years in prison or both.

Tester said that he would likely be voting to give parents, and women, to make their own healthcare decisions.

“The question is this: Who knows best or what decision needs to be made? Is it me? Is it a Supreme Court justice? Or is it the woman who’s carrying the child?” Tester said.

Another question was on inflation, and why the federal government has continued spending despite increasing prices.

Tester said the question is what programs should be cut. He again touted the Inflation Reduction Act, saying it was the right thing to do because the law paid down the national debt by $300 billion. He added that each program in that bill, or in general, has merit — like tax credits for green energy.

“So what I would love to have from you, is tell me where you want me to cut,” Tester said.

Tester talks climate, other issues in first in-person town hall since start of pandemic | Politics |