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Montana Lawmakers Want A Definite Timeline For Colstrip Closures

Sen. Duane Ankney (R) SD20
Montana Legislature

Today Montana lawmakers agreed to draft legislation aimed at getting more details about the future of the Colstrip coal-fired power plant. A legal settlement filed this week says two of the plant’s four boilers will be shut down by 2020.

Members of the Energy and Telecommunication Interim Committee unanimously agreed to draft a bill proposed by Republican Senator Duane Ankney of Colstrip.

Ankney said his community needs a plan for the pending partial closure of the electricity plant.

The settlement between the plant’s owners and environmental groups says the two oldest of Colstrip’s coal-burning units will shut down in 6 years, at the latest, but provides no additional timeline. Ankney says Colstrip needs to know what is going to happen to them and when.

"It is very important to the people and the county, the school districts in Colstrip that they have a date certain."

Ankney said the proposed bill draft will address the company's responsibility to create a timeline for shutting down Units 1 and 2, remediation of the plant and how displaced workers will be taken care of.

Bozeman Representative Christopher Pope, a Democrat, supported the bill draft, but raised concerns about Montana lawmakers’ ability to require the companies, not based in Montana, to abide by their requests.

"I do raise the question in my own mind about what we can instruct another state to do. And that should be part of the bill’s draft."

The Energy and Telecommunication Interim Committee will meet again in September, its final meeting before the 2017 session.

Corin Cates-Carney is the news director at Montana Public Radio. He joined MTPR in 2015 and is a graduate of the University of Montana School of Journalism.
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