MATT GOURAS Associated Press Writer HELENA
Gov. Brian Schweitzer met Monday with four ambassadors to the United Nations, talking about cleaner ways of using energy and other issues. Schweitzer told the ambassadors that "clean and green" energy is the biggest issue facing the world. The representatives from Denmark, Finland, Iraq and Thailand traveled to the state as part of a delegation looking to Montana as an innovator in the use of environmentally friendly technology and energy efficient programs. Ambassador Carsten Staur of Denmark said he hopes to learn why states are moving on climate change issues, while the federal government is not. He said the "disconnect" is confusing to world leaders who are trying to enlist the United States' help on climate change issues. Schweitzer said states first recognized the changing mood on the issue and suggested that states are more prone to take action. He said Congress is more likely to stall at the urging of industry lobbyists, while states have to be more responsive to the public. But the governor said the mood in Washington, D.C., is changing. He noted presidential candidates in the past would have been reluctant to even recognize global warming was connected to carbon dioxide emissions. "I hope the international committee will recognize the change in attitude" and recognize the United States is now more receptive to the issue, Schweitzer said. Schweitzer also told the delegation about his initiative to increase conservation in state government and its fleet of vehicles. He is also pushing for wind energy development and cleaner coal. Last week, he announced a German company would be building a wind-energy plant in Butte. A legislative panel is currently reviewing dozens of broad initiatives dealing with climate change, but Schweitzer has not yet said which ones he will support. "We don't have all the answers in Montana, but I bet we will be asking as many questions as anybody," Schweitzer told the diplomats.