Patrick Barkey, Director of the Bureau of Business and Economic Research
Courtesy UM Bureau of Business and Economic Research

Last week a study of what could happen to Montana’s economy under President Obama’s Clean Power Plan came out of the University of Montana’s Bureau of Business and Economic Research. Opponents of the carbon dioxide reduction plan say it proves dire consequences. Backers of the plan say the study merely reached the predetermined conclusion of the utility company that sponsored it.

Patrick Barkey, author of the study and director of the Bureau of Business and Economic Research joined us for an interview about it.

A University of Montana study funded by the state’s largest electric utility predicts dire economic consequences to the state because of the president’s plan to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. The study is drawing sharp criticism from advocates of alternative energy.

In Coal Country, No Cash On Hand For Billions In Cleanup

Nov 16, 2015
An aerial view of Eagle Butte Mine, owned by bankrupt Alpha Natural Resources.
Google Earth

In energy rich parts of the country, over one million acres of land is currently dug up and built on for coal mining operations. Reclaiming those mines—filling the pits with dirt and then recreating the ecosystem that once was, is expensive. Montana requires mining companies to put up money up front to pay for eventual clean up. But not all states, do, and as the dramatic decline of the coal industry advances, coal companies may no longer have billions in cash on hand to pay their clean-up costs. Inside Energy reporter Leigh Paterson looks at the massive task of reclaiming the land from our energy appetites.

Clinton Releases $30 Billion Plan To Help Coal Country

Nov 16, 2015
Flicr user oatsy40 (CC-BY-2)

Hillary Clinton has just released a $30 billion plan to help coal country. But Inside Energy’s Emily Guerin reports Republicans aren’t buying it, given Clinton's support of President Obama’s climate policies.

Sen. Steve Daines
Courtesy photo

If you’re a U.S. Senator from Montana, the reduction in carbon dioxide emissions that the White House is calling for is either a misguided war on working Montanans, or a reasonable starting point for a discussion of fighting climate change.

Colstrip power plant as seen in the early 1980s.
David T. Hanson (CC-BY-SA-2)

Things have changed a lot since January, when it comes to Montana's response to groups in Washington state that could shut down parts or all of the Colstrip coal-fired electricity plant southeast of Billings.

Montana's Governor and a dozen business representatives from here are wrapping up a four-day trade mission to Taiwan and South Korea Friday. They're coming home to some bad news: the state's coal exports to Asia are being cut back.

Montana State Senator Duane Ankney joined other Montana and Washington policymakers to discuss the future of the Colstrip power plant.
Eric Whitney

About a dozen Montanans were in Spokane Wednesday to talk to Washington state lawmakers about legislation that would impact the Colstrip coal-fired power plant southeast of Billings.

Sen. Duane Ankney (R) SD20
Montana Legislature

Five Montana elected officials are in Spokane tomorrow to talk with Washington state lawmakers about the future of Montana’s Colstrip power plant.

Crow Tribe Says Coal Development Crucial To Survival

Oct 23, 2015
Coal train.
Flickr user Erin Kinney(CC-BY-NC-ND-2)

In south-central Montana, plans are underway to get more coal out of the ground and onto ships headed to Asia. The Crow Tribe and Cloud Peak Energy of Wyoming are partnering to develop a new coal mine on the reservation and to open a new export terminal in Washington’s Puget Sound. Although coal prices are in decline and a protest movement is growing, the Crow are undeterred. For them, coal equals survival.