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energy

US Wildlife Agency Seeks To Carve Out Areas From Protections

Sep 4, 2020
Lesser prairie chicken.
CC-BY-2 https://www.flickr.com/photos/larry1732/

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A Trump administration proposal released Friday would allow the government to deny habitat protections for endangered animals and plants in areas that would see greater economic benefits from being developed — a change critics said could open lands to more energy development and other activities.

Trump Administration Finalizes Coal Plant Pollution Rollback

Aug 31, 2020
Coal ash waste at the Colstrip power plant.
Courtesy Alexis Bonogofsky - Montana Environmental Information Center

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — The Trump administration on Monday finalized its weakening of an Obama-era rule aimed at reducing pollution from coal-burning power plants that has contaminated streams, lakes and underground aquifers

The change will allow utilities to use cheaper technologies and take longer to comply with pollution reduction guidelines that are less stringent than what the agency originally adopted in 2015.

Montana state regulators will consider NorthWestern Energy’s proposed purchase in a greater share of the Colstrip coal fired power plant in mid December.

The Montana Public Service Commission (PSC) set a hearing date of Dec. 14 at its meeting on Aug. 25.

NorthWestern filed a motion on Aug. 14 to expedite the first hearing on its proposed 92-MGW acquisition in Colstrip unit 4 to November. Intervenors said that’s not enough time for discovery.

PSC staff’s suggested mid December hearing is before newly elected commissioners take their seats.

Editor’s Note 08/20/20: The original version of this story misattributed the included quote and it has since been corrected.

Montana electric utility regulators are investigating the effect of the novel coronavirus on a rate structuring pilot program from the state’s largest utility.

This week, the Montana Public Service Commission (PSC) ordered NorthWestern Energy to submit a report factoring in financial impacts from the novel coronavirus on the utility’s decoupling program.

Power plant at Colstrip, MT.
Beth Saboe / MontanaPBS

Montana's largest coal-fired power plant has begun demolishing equipment as part of a partial closure.

The Colstrip Power Plant started dismantling its Unit 1 and 2 cooling towers in July, the Billings Gazette reported Wednesday.

The Spring Creek Mine near Decker, Montana
Google maps

A coal company plans to rehire 73 employees who've been out of work at a Montana mine since April. The workers will be able to return to Spring Creek Mine on Aug. 3, according to a Monday announcement by the Navajo Transitional Energy Company.


This week, Montana’s Republican candidate for governor unveiled what he’s billing a comeback plan for the state.


Environmental groups filed the latest in a series of federal lawsuits against the Keystone XL crude oil pipeline, this time challenging a permit to cross federal lands.

In the latest step of a long pre approval process, the commission that regulates electric utilities in Montana wants to know how big a share NorthWestern Energy intends to purchase in the Colstrip coal fired power plant.

Oil pump.
Dan Boyce

The president of an oil processing company whose Eastern Montana plant exploded in 2012 was sentenced to 18 months in federal prison.

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