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Montana Regulators Say Bonds In Place For Colstrip Cleanup, Lawmakers Skeptical

Montana regulators say they expect to have $400 million in bonds in place by July to cover future cleanup costs at the Colstrip power plant.


But state lawmakers expressed skepticism over that time frame after regulators failed to meet previous deadlines to secure the money.

At a meeting of the Energy and Telecommunications Interim Committee Jan. 13, Democratic Senator Janet Ellis of Helena asked how the state Department of Environmental Quality could ensure it’ll have bonds in hand by the end of the fiscal year.

“You may recall, I’ve done bills in 2017 and 2019 and I was promised that the surety bonds would be in place by the end of 2017 and then by the end of 2019, and neither of those have happened,” Ellis said. 

A DEQ representative told her part of the reason is that the department is waiting on the power plant owners.

The coal-fired plant in southeastern Montana closed two of its four units earlier this month.

Plans are being made to clean up huge volumes of contaminated water that leaked from ponds that were used to store ash from the coal burned at Colstrip. That work is expected to cost $400 million to $700 million.

Copyright 2020 Yellowstone Public Radio

Kayla Desroches reports for Yellowstone Public Radio in Billings. She was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, and stayed in the city for college, where she hosted a radio show that featured serialized dramas like the Shadow and Suspense. In her pathway to full employment, she interned at WNYC in New York City and KTOO in Juneau, Alaska. She then spent a few years on the island of Kodiak, Alaska, where she transitioned from reporter to news director before moving to Montana.
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