Independent Record: Rehberg’s fishing fundraiser runs counter to his voting record

Rep. Denny Rehberg this past week held a fly fishing fundraiser in which people paid $2,000 per couple to fish with him on the Big Hole and Beaverhead rivers. As avid anglers and people who run fishing-related businesses, we can’t help but be struck by the irony and audacity of this event given his recent voting record. In truth, Congressmen Rehberg has voted time and time again on the wrong side of bills that would impact Montana’s fisheries and fishing industry.

Just this session, Rep. Rehberg voted twice to limit Clean Water Act authority for upland tributary streams despite the fact that Montana’s blue ribbon waters are dependent on high mountain streams feeding them ample, clean water. Similarly, Congressman Rehberg voted against the regulation of toxic mercury emissions from cement factories even though Montana already has 1,200 miles of mercury impaired streams and a statewide mercury-related fish consumption warning for lake trout, walleye and pike. Not stopping there, Congressman Rehberg voted against setting common-sense standards limiting carbon emissions from coal plants and refineries in defiance of climate trends in Montana resulting in earlier runoff, more sustained droughts, more intense wildfires, and higher stream temperatures. To top it all off, Congressman Rehberg voted to allow the application of aquatic pesticides to water without a permit in spite of the mountain of evidence showing pesticides’ negative impact on important aquatic vegetation and the insects fish feed on.

These are not the votes of a person who understands the cultural significance of fishing in this state. Fishing is a passion for us. It is a cornerstone of our way of life. Statistics show that Montana has the second-highest trout fishing participation rate in the country. All totaled, more than 2.27 million angler days are spent fishing for trout here each year. For many Montanans fishing is a major reason we live in this great state.

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