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coal

" class="wysiwyg-asset-image" contenteditable="false" fid="16410" image_style="placed_wide" uri="public://201708/E3A31363-7DAA-4124-8FCA-B85132ED6C7F.jpg">Fire drought
“This has been a difficult year," Democratic Governor Steve Bullock says. "By some estimates our fire seasons are now about 78 days longer than they were two decades ago.”
Credit Nate Hegyi / YPR

State climatologist Kelsey Jencso says what folks are seeing this summer -- extreme fires, sudden droughts, snowpacks melting quickly -- may be a vision of Montana’s future.

If you’re wondering what climate change will look like in Montana, state climatologist Kelsey Jencso says take a look outside. 

“This is certainly what the future may look like,” he says.

About 30 coal cars in a Montana Rail Link freight train derailed this weekend along the Clark Fork River in northwestern Montana.

MRL spokesman Joe Lewis says the derailment happened at about 11 p.m. Sunday near Noxon, just east of the Idaho border.

The Trump administration is repealing an Obama-era rule that forced energy companies to pay more royalties on fossil fuels. Coal producers call it a return to fairness, but environmental groups say the repeal allows companies to continue exploiting a decades-old loophole.

A coal mine on the Crow Reservation was the first stop for Vice President Mike Pence’s visit to Montana.

After Air Force Two landed, Pence climbed into a waiting vehicle and went directly to the Crow Reservation.


Vice President Mike Pence and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke are scheduled to visit a coal mine on the Crow Reservation Friday. The Trump Administration has voiced its support for the coal industry, but spokesmen for the industry and an environmental organization aren’t certain what can be done to help that ailing energy source.

An escalating trade war brewing between the United States and Canada could save timber mills in Montana, but at the cost of over 1,000 jobs north of the border in British Columbia.
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An escalating trade war brewing between the United States and Canada could save timber mills in Montana, but at the cost of over 1,000 jobs north of the border in British Columbia.

It all started in April, when the Trump administration slapped tariffs on softwood lumber coming across the border, making them up to 24 percent more expensive. It’s something Montana lumber producers have been asking for, and it’s a test of Trump’s ‘America First’ trade policy. 

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Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he’s carefully and seriously considering a request from the premier of British Columbia to deny U.S. coal exports through Vancouver.

Failed Legislation Means Uncertainty For Colstrip's Future

May 3, 2017
The Colstrip Power Plant consists of four separate coal-fired generating units, collectively owned by Puget Sound Energy, Talen Energy, Avista Corporation, PacifiCorp and NorthWestern Energy.
Beth Saboe

When Montana's 2017 Legislature adjourned on April 28, Sen. Duane Ankney, R-Colstrip, ended almost right where he began.

At the session's beginning, he helped draw up several bills that would help his community, which is facing the impending closure of two out of four units at its massive coal-fired electrical plant. By the time lawmakers left the Capitol, many of the bills – aimed at easing impacts on jobs, tax revenues and real estate – were dead.

The big state budget bill landed on Governor Steve Bullock’s desk Monday, one of the final acts of the 2017 legislative session, which was gaveled to a close Friday.

MTPR’s Capitol Reporter Corin Cates-Carney joins us for a look at what Montana lawmakers did and didn’t accomplish since convening in January.

The Spring Creek Mine near Decker, Montana
Google maps

Montana timber companies are happy that President Trump has slapped new import taxes on Canadian forest products, but backlash is hurting a coal company here.

On Wednesday the premier of British Columbia asked Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to retaliate against the timber tariffs by shutting down U.S. access to a seaport in Vancouver. That letter caused the stock price of Cloud Peak Energy to drop by 10 percent yesterday.

The Northern Cheyenne tribe, along with a coalition of conservation groups, sued the Trump administration Wednesday for lifting a moratorium on coal leases on public lands.

The southeastern Montana tribe filed the lawsuit in response to Interior Secretary Zinke’s decision to lift the moratorium on coal leasing.

Republican Sen. Duane Ankney from Colstrip says the bill isn’t supposed to penalize the companies for leaving, but to help set expectations for when they do.
Mike Albans

Legislation aiming to secure the social and economic future of Colstrip and the community sustained, in part, by the town’s coal-fired plant passed out of the Senate today. Senate Bill 338 received wide bipartisan support as it passed two key votes this afternoon.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke Wednesday signed orders implementing measures President Trump wants to take to roll back restrictions on fossil fuel production.

The 14-month old Obama-era moratorium on new coal leases on federal land ended Wednesday with the stroke of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s pen.

The Colstrip Power Plant consists of four separate coal-fired generating units, collectively owned by Puget Sound Energy, Talen Energy, Avista Corporation, PacifiCorp and NorthWestern Energy.
Beth Saboe

As state lawmakers debate bills designed to keep the strip mine and coal fired power plant at Colstrip open as long as possible, a social experimenter in Helena is convening an event aimed at the heart of the debate over whether fossil fuel-based economies should have a place in Montana’s Future. Tate Chamberlin has pulled together activists, politicians, and entrepreneurs to dive deep into thorny questions around coal, jobs, and climate change. I asked him what he has in mind.

Rob Quist.
Josh Burnham

Democratic U.S. House candidate Rob Quist is traveling around Montana holding rallies where he emphasizes  his stand on protecting public lands. He's also been in the news for unpaid debts and tax liens on his property.

MTPR's Sally Mauk talks with the nominee about his positions on everything from gun rights to healthcare and what he thinks of President Trump.

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

The speaker of Montana’s House is hoping to extend the life of the coal-fired power plants in Colstrip by offering their operators loans to keep them running for at least the next five years.

Legislators are considering legislation to help the citizens of Colstrip and the state of Montana weather the pending closure of 2 coal fired power plants by requiring the plants owners compensate the community for the economic loss.  


The Colstrip Power Plant consists of four separate coal-fired generating units, collectively owned by Puget Sound Energy, Talen Energy, Avista Corporation, PacifiCorp and NorthWestern Energy.
Beth Saboe

After announcing a soon-to-be-released plan to help keep parts of the coal-fired power plant in Colstrip open, Montana’s Speaker of the House now says that plan is still up in the air. During the GOP rebuttal to Governor Steve Bullock’s State of the State address in January, Speaker Austin Knudsen said he would be introducing legislation in the upcoming days to help keep Colstrip Units 1 and 2 open for as long as possible.

President Donald Trump Thursday ended a key Obama-era coal mining regulation designed to protect waterways from coal mining waste.
Flickr user oatsy40 (CC-BY-2)

President Donald Trump Thursday ended a key Obama-era coal mining regulation. Montanans' reaction to the repeal of the Stream Protection Rule covered the gamut from elation to frustration. 

Republican Sen. Duane Ankney from Colstrip says the bill isn’t supposed to penalize the companies for leaving, but to help set expectations for when they do.
Mike Albans

The state senator from Colstrip is asking lawmakers in Helena to consider a bill requiring a more detailed cleanup plan for when two coal-fired electric generators in his town shut down.

On Monday, Republican Duane Ankney proposed the first of several bills he is bringing forward this legislative session directed at the future of Colstrip

The "Capitol Talk" panel recaps the State of the State, talks about the state of the budget, and notices that both Amanda Curtis and Greg Gianforte are trying to tie their congressional campaigns to Donald Trump. Can the enthusiasm on display at the women's march be translated into real action for change? Sally Mauk and Rob Saldin discuss the week in Montana politics on this episode of "Capitol Talk."

Familiar Infrastructure Ideas Return to 2017 Session

Jan 17, 2017

There was a bit of déjà vu surrounding a bill that seeks to use coal tax money to pay for crumbling public works and state buildings.

“I think the bill is familiar to many of us,” said Dan Villa, Governor Steve Bullock’s budget director.

Colstrip power plant, Montana
Courtesy Montana AFI-CIO

Two bills introduced today in the Montana Legislature hope to bring some stability to the community and workers in Colstrip. Both were a result of bipartisan work done in the legislative interim, after plant owners settled a lawsuit with environmental groups, agreeing to shut down two of Colstrip’s four units by 2022.

Feds Dismiss Tongue River Railroad Permit
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A yearlong federal review shows coal sales from public lands need to be modernized to deal with climate change and give taxpayers a fair return. The Interior Department imposed a moratorium on new coal sales last year. It's now considering raising royalty rates and requiring compensation from mining companies to offset coal's effect on climate change.

Colstrip Closure, Water Rights On The Agenda At The Montana Legislature

Jan 3, 2017
Montana Capitol.
William Marcus

The Colstrip Power Plant and water rights are shaping up to be big natural resource issues for the 2017 Legislative session.

Gov. Steve Bullock. File photo.
Corin Cates-Carney

President-elect Donald Trump has promised a lot of change after he’s sworn in next month. MTPR Capitol reporter Corin Cates-Carney sat down with Montana Governor Steve Bullock earlier this week to talk about what some of  those changes could mean for Montana.

Environmental organizations reacted Wednesday to reports that Montana Congressman Ryan Zinke is President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for secretary of the Interior. The Interior Department and other U.S. agencies control almost a third of Montana’s land and even more of the vast amounts of coal, oil and natural gas that lay beneath it.

Zinke has been critical of federal land management and has advocated for more development of coal, oil and natural gas. However he's also an outspoken supporter of keeping public lands in federal hands.

Jeff Essmann, chairman of the Montana Republican Party.
Courtesy Montana Legislature

Montana’s Republican leadership says GOP wins here on Election Day are helping advance their long-term plan of tipping the state from at times purple, to completely red.

Republicans swept all of the statewide positions outside of the governor’s office on Election Day, while continuing their majority in the state Legislature. They also maintained their monopoly in the Public Service Commission.

Groups campaigning for the expansion of renewable energy sources rallied nearly a hundred supporters in front of NorthWestern Energy headquarters in Butte, MT Oct. 10, 2016.
Corin Cates-Carney

  About 100 advocates for renewable energy walked through uptown Butte earlier this week, chanting and thrusting signs in the air. Some protesters kept time on wooden blocks, tambourines and drums, as they walked toward the state headquarters of Montana’s largest utility company, NorthWestern Energy.

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