With 70 percent of respondents to a recent online poll voting against developing the proposed Otter Creek coal mine in southeastern Montana, our governor, whom the national press has dubbed the “Coal Cowboy,” has decided to extort support for the proposed mine from county commissioners, telling them that he will not release their federal stimulus money unless they write him a letter stating they support tearing open the pristine Otter Creek valley to create a huge, open-pit coal mine (see “Coal coercion,” April 1, 2010). Does the fact that there is no connection between federal stimulus funds and the proposed coal mine make this act of extortion even worse? You decide. But it can’t be much worse than the fact that our governor is supporting the development of a huge new coal mine (when burning coal is the biggest contributor to catastrophic climate change) at a time when climate change is killing millions of Montana’s pines, causing larger summer fires, damaging our winter sports industry and our summer snow-melt water supply, and causing more of the 90- and 100-degree summer days that are making it uncomfortable for us all and are seriously threatening our farmers’ and ranchers’ chances for survival. Gov. Schweitzer’s failure to exercise wise leadership is leading to extraordinarily damaging consequences for us all.