Dear MSSA Friends,

The ongoing attack by Northwestern Energy on the right to keep and bear arms that Montanans have reserved to themselves in the Montana Constitution is beginning to disclose interesting and questionable new issues about Northwestern.

Northwestern opposed the pro-RKBA House Bill 598 before the Legislature, justifying only 3% of its opinion by claiming HB 598 could affect its property rights or employee contracts (the remaining 97% was just a rant).

Well, words matter.  In the case of Northwesterns opposition to HB 598 and to justify its anti-RKBA stance, it was necessary for it to pretend to read words into the printed language of the bill that simply dont exist.  HB 598 says on Page 1 that it applies only to the state of Montana or any political subdivision or local government, and on Page 2 that it relates to a claim or defense only against the state.

HB 598 simply does not apply to any private-sector entities.  Northwestern pretends that the words or Northwestern Energy are magically in the bill, maybe somewhere between the lines, just because they say so (and dont you just love the Kings new clothes?)  Regardless of Northwesterns fantasy, those words are not in HB 598.

The alternative explanation is that Northwestern is so full of itself that it thinks it IS the State of Montana.  Actually, this explanation may get closer to the nut.

In its reports to investors, Northwest says it carries on its balance sheet an asset of Goodwill that it values at $355 million.  Yes, really.  A chunk of this incredible Goodwill value Northwestern claims on its balance sheet as an asset it attributes to a stable regulatory climate.

Thats an understated way for Northwestern to brag to investors that it has a lock on the Legislature and the Public Service Commission, a manifestation of the Copper Kings legacy in Montana by this foreign corporation that shouldn’t surprise us.  Northwestern Energy wants investors to believe it wields the political muscle to control the Legislature and the PSC, thus its claim of a stable regulatory climate.

If it does have that control, thats a foreign influence over Montana and its people that voters need to fix in the next election cycle.  If Northwestern is just blowing smoke, the Legislature and the PSC need to tell Northwestern in no uncertain terms to mind its own business.

Northwestern Energy of South Dakota has been granted a monopoly of market in Montana by the Legislature.  Government-created monopolies are always a potentially worrisome thing.  If Northwestern insists on throwing around the weight it gets from this captive market by using that Legislature-granted muscle to restrict the civil rights of Montanans, then its high time for the Legislature to either end this predatory monopoly or crank the regulatory screws dramatically down on Northwestern.

The Legislature is supposed to be the peoples voice, not Northwesterns handmaiden.  We all want reliable energy, but we aren’t willing to pay a political price for that of allowing Northwestern Energy of South Dakota to run Montana.  We pay enough for energy already out of our checkbooks.

Northwestern continues with its "circle the wagons" response and refuses to admit that it was off base and WAY outside it corporate mission area in opposing HB 598.  It still opposes the RKBA and HB 598.  Should we allow an out-of-state corporation that has a legislatively-granted monopoly to work against our constitutional rights?  Northwestern thinks that if they just dig in for a while this will all blow over and people will forget about it.  I don’t think so.

Are Northwestern investors listening to this hornets’ nest of controversy that Northwestern has kicked open in Montana?  Maybe, and maybe Northwestern will hear about their jitters.

Sorry so long, but I can’t resist one more comment.  Northwestern claims that I’ve "threatened" them by suggesting I might attend public hearings on issues of interest to Northwestern before the Legislature and the PSC.  Dang, I didn’t know I was so powerful that a giant corporation would feel "threatened" just because I might attend a public hearing, and might even use my First Amendment right to speak.  Dang.  Flattering.

Feel free to forward this or send more comments to Northwestern officers at:

Best wishes,

Gary Marbut, President
Montana Shooting Sports Association
Author, Gun Laws of Montana

By mssa