Defending our Outdoors and Investing in Clean Energy

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“I’m in love with Montana. For other states I have admiration, respect, recognition, even some affection. But with Montana it is love. And it’s difficult to analyze love when you’re in it.” - John Steinbeck

There is no doubt that what we have in Montana is special. Whether is the flowing rivers filled with trout, the wide praires in the east, or the towering mountains in the west - Big Sky Country is set apart from the rest. That's why MontPIRG has worked tirelessly for over 35 years to protect the wild places from the out-of-state companies that seek to pollute, destroy, and exploit her beauty. 

Protecting Montana's National Monument

On April 26th, 2017, President Trump signed an executive order to review any national monument created since Jan. 1, 1996, that spans at least 100,000 acres in a move he said would “end another egregious use of government power.”

This puts Montana’s Missouri River Breaks national monument on the chopping block for efforts to advance mining exploration, oil leasing, construction projects, and sales that could limit public access.

With only 120 days to push back on this dangerous proposal, MontPIRG is committed to traveling the state to identify supporters and urge them to publicly oppose any change to this monument status of the Missouri River Breaks.

Starting in June MontPIRG launched a statewide canvass that will knock 19,600 doors in seven cities across Montana. Our canvass has a proven track record of connecting with Montanans and empowering them to take action.

Our interns and volunteers will spend the summer attending high traffic events to educate Montanans about the threat to our public lands and provide them opportunities to take action. They will travel and work in collaboration with partner organizations to raise media attention and provide a larger audience with the tools to contact Secretary Zinke.

Our Clean Energy Future

Renewable energy development in Montana is a success story. Montana is proving that we can have affordable, reliable power from wind energy, while protecting our air and water, supporting family agriculture and making America more energy independent. Montana’s Renewable Energy Standard (RES) of 15% by 2015 is working to create jobs, bring economic development to rural Montana, and produce clean, affordable energy for consumers.


  • Montana ranks 2nd in the nation for energy potential from wind, but 21st in actual production.
  • Our state has the wind potential to generate more than one trillion kWh annually, the equivalent of the electricity needed to power the entire state more than 70 times over.
  • The cheapest electric generation source on NorthWestern Energy’s system the Judith Gap Wind Farm, located between Lewistown and Harlowtown.
  • The Judith Gap Wind Farm, since 2005, has produced over $28 million of Montana tax and landowner royalty payments.




  • 1981-1986
    • MontPIRG supported the Right to Know Law which required private employers to disclose the use of hazardous chemicals or waste to their employees and the community
  • 1987-1991
    • MontPIRG supported the expansion of the Right to Know Law, specifying that chemicals sprayed in communities must be publicly posted
    • MontPIRG introduced the Bottle Bill to the Associated Students of the University of Montana (ASUM) ballot and embarked on a statewide recycling campaign
    • MontPIRG spearheaded the removal of the Milltown Dam due to evidence of carcinogens behind the dam
  • 1992-1996
    • MontPIRG continued its fight for clean water and a robust campus and city recycling program
    • MontPIRG promoted "Polluter Pays" legislation to the national level
    • MontPIRG protected clean air by defeating a pro-hazardous waste burning bill in the state legislature
  • 1997-2001
    • One of MontPIRG's hallmark accomplishments, the Cyanide Leach Mining Campaign ensured the passage of I-137, which banned the use of cyanide leach mining in Montana
    • MontPIRG established a recycling fee on campus as well as an alternative transportation fee, which created the office of Sustainability and Transportation that continue to operate at the University of Montana
    • MontPIRG continued its recycling campaign by supporting bottle recycling in Missoula
    • MontPIRG led the battle against the Rock Creek mine in Noxon
    • MontPIRG defended the Montana Environmental Policy Act at the state capital
  • 2002-2006
    • MontPIRG began the Buy Back the Dams Ballot Initiative in 2002 which would require the integration of hydroelectric energy into the Montana energy system
    • MontPIRG fought against allowing snowmobiles in Yellowstone National Park
    • MontPIRG revived its previous campaign against Cyanide Leach Mining  in 2004 to win another major success by running a significant grassroots campaign to oppose I-147 and uphold the ban despite being outspent 3-1 by our opponents
    • MontPIRG was instrumental in establishing the 2005 Renewable Energy Standard that required 15% of the University of Montana's energy to be renewable by 2015
    • MontPIRG continued developing recycling and the sustainability program on campus by campaigning to increase the recycling fee
    • MontPIRG collected over 2,000 public comments during its Mercury campaign
    • MontPIRG opposed the Healthy Forest Initiative, which threatened to allow logging in National Forests
    • MontPIRG supported the passage of Universal Systems Benefits (USB) which fund energy research and development and renewable energy development
  • 2007-2014
    • MontPIRG knocked over 4,000 doors to support a mill levy to expand Missoula's public transit system, which received 57% of the votes cast in that election
    • MontPIRG petitioned for Amtrak 
    • During its Glacier Park - North Fork Protection campaign, MontPIRG collected thousands of petitions to protect Glacier National Park which convinced 80% of the oil companies who had contracts to drill in the Park to withdraw
    • MontPIRG supported and passed legislation setting fuel efficiency standards for state owned vehicles
    • MontPIRG gathered 100 handwritten letters, 120 photo and 1200 petition signatures for student lobbyists to present to the House Federal Relations, Energy, and Telecommunications committee in support of the Renewable Energy Standard MontPIRG passed in 2005 as well as the new 25% goal by 2025
    • In the 2009 session, MontPIRG influenced Governor Schweitzer to veto legislation that would have prohibited the state from enacting meaningful energy efficiency codes, create yet another loophole in Montana's ban on cyanid leach mining, and water down the Renewable Energy Standard.
  • 2015-Present
    • In 2015, MontPIRG began its Save the Smith River campaign to stop an inexperienced, international mining company from developing on the headwaters of one of Montana's most iconic rivers. Since the beginning of the campaign, MontPIRG has collected over 3,000 public comments statewide and passed a save the smith resolution through the Missoula city council
    • During the 2017 legislature, MontPIRG sent two student lobbyists to our state capital who were instrumental in supporting environmentally conscious legislation as well as stopping a variety of bad bills from gaining traction
    • In 2017, MontPIRG began its Protect the Breaks campaign to protect the Upper Missouri River Breaks from mining explotation, oil leasing, construction project, and sales that could limit public access


Protect our National Monuments Door Knocks

GOAL: 19,600

Protect Our National Monuments Public Comments

GOAL: 3,500