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Settlement Over Colstrip Pollution Controls Delayed

Colstrip power plant, Colstrip Montana.
Flicker User ambib (CC-BY-NC)
Colstrip power plant.

It’ll take a little longer than expected to settle at least one lawsuit – perhaps two – involving the coal-fired power plants at Colstrip. Two environmental groups argue Colstrip’s pollution control equipment could be inadequate.

The Montana Environmental Information Center and the Sierra Club sued Colstrip’s owners in 2013. The groups claim the plant never went through the necessary air permitting process to determine whether modern air pollution controls were economical and necessary. The case was supposed to be resolved by Tuesday.

MEIC’s Anne Hedges says substantial progress was made during the settlement negotiations and only minor details need to be resolved.

A request to extend the deadline to July 12 was filed this week in Billings District Court. Hedges says negotiations surrounding a second case involving Colstrip’s leaking coal ash ponds might be resolved at the same time.

Hazardous ash is leftover after coal is burned. Colstrip’s ash ponds have leaked since the 80s, contaminating ground and surface water.

MEIC, Sierra Club and the National Wildlife Federation accuse the state and PPL Montana, now Talen Energy, of dragging their heels on the cleanup. State officials argue the case is being properly handled. Talen, meanwhile, says it wants out of its contract to operate Colstrip within two years. The company says it’s losing millions of dollars there.

O’Brien first landed at Montana Public Radio three decades ago as a news intern while attending the University of Montana School of Journalism. His first career job out of school was covering the 1995 Montana Legislature. When the session wrapped up, O’Brien was fortunate enough to land a full-time position at the station as a general assignment reporter. Feel free to drop him a line at
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