MTPR

Duane Ankney

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.

Coal with the town of Colstrip in the background
Amy Martin

An attempt to resurrect legislation written to aid the city of Colstrip when parts of the coal-fired power plant there shut down, failed a long-shot vote Tuesday afternoon.

Democratic Representative Jim Keane pressed lawmakers to blast Senate Bill 338 onto the House Floor for debate after it failed to pass out of a committee last week on a tie vote.

The gas tax increase is expected to bring in an additional $29 million this year, more than half of which will go to cities and counties for local road-related construction.
Rusty Clark (CC-BY-NC-2)

House Bill 473 would impose the first increase to Montana’s gas tax increase since the early 1990s, when the tax was raised to the current charge of 27 cents per gallon.

The new tax proposed by the House, in March, calls for an additional 8 cent tax increase per gallon of gas. But that was too high for the Senate. So, this week the Senate passed a compromise: 4.5 cents per gallon, going up to 6 cents by 2023.

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.

This week our topics from the 2017 Montana Legislature are:  coal and prohibiting state courts from considering foreign laws.  

Guests:  Sen. Duane Ankney, R-Colstrip, and Sen. Keith Regier, R-Kalispell.


Duane Ankney, the Republican Senator from Colstrip
Mike Albans

Last July, the operators of the Colstrip coal-fired power plant settled a lawsuit with environmental groups, agreeing to shut down the plants two older electricity generators by 2022.

As the community of Colstrip tries to figure out an uncertain future, their Republican Senator Duane Ankney is proposing legislation aiming to provide some security for his town.

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

Time is Running Out to Build a SW MT Veterans Home

Jan 27, 2017

Veterans lined up to deliver emotional testimony in support of a Southwest Montana Veterans home.  They’re seeking a so-called “bridge loan” to begin construction before time runs out.

“We’re at a point where if we don’t get it done this (Legislative) session all of the work to get this built is wasted,” said Navy Veteran and registered nurse Tom Goyette. He said if construction doesn’t start by 2019 the land donated by Don Harrington will revert back to the family.


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.

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.

Coal with the town of Colstrip in the background
Amy Martin

What is going to happen to Colstrip? That was the question Thursday as state legislators questioned companies that agreed to shut down two of the four coal-burning units of the Colstrip electricity plant.

Governor Bullock Brings Energy Roundtable To Colstrip

May 31, 2016
Colstrip power plant, Montana
Flicker User ambib (CC-BY-NC)

Governor Steve Bullock brought his energy round table discussion to Colstrip to talk about Montana’s energy future. Several citizens of Colstrip were more concerned about their economic future.

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

Tonight on MontanaPBS, producer Beth Saboe takes a look at the uncertain future of the town of Colstrip, as big changes are rocking the coal industry around the world and in Montana. She joins us now to talk about her film, "The Future of Colstrip."

Washington State Senate Passes Bill Involving Colstrip Plants

Feb 18, 2016
Colstrip power plant as seen in the early 1980s.
David T. Hanson (CC-BY-SA-2)

SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — A bill that would authorize the state's largest utility to create a fund to pay for the eventual shutdown of two coal-powered electricity plants in Montana easily passed the Washington State Senate on Wednesday.

Sen. Duane Ankney (R) SD20
Montana Legislature

On Wednesday four Montana state senators testified before a legislative committee in Washington state. They said that even a partial closure of the Colstrip coal-fired power plant that supplies electricity to Washington would raise power rates in both states and cause big job losses in Montana.

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 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.

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

Montana and Washington state lawmakers will meet this fall about the possibility of weaning Washington off of Montana coal.

Voices For, Against Coal Royalty Reform Heard In Billings

Aug 12, 2015
Commenters line up to speak during a Billings meeting on coal royalty reforms, Tuesday, August 11.
Jackie Yamanaka - Yellowstone Public Radio

An overflow crowd packed the Montana/Dakota’s BLM state office in Billings to speak on the federal coal program Tuesday. The agency is seeking comment on possible changes to make sure it’s obtaining the full economic value for the mining of federal coal. Comments ranged from whether the government is getting enough revenue, to climate change, to the "war on coal."

Montana Activists Rally Against Coal Trains
Flickr user Erin Kinney (CC-BY-NC-ND-2)

Critics say that for decades the coal industry has gamed the system to underpay its fair share of federal coal royalties. They say those alleged schemes have padded the bottom lines of coal companies while short-changing state and local governments of tens of millions of dollars.

Jonathan Motl, Montana Commissioner of Political Practices speaks during a forum in Missoula, MT
Josh Burnham

Montana’s new campaign finance law still has at least one loophole that needs to be addressed. That’s according to state Political Practices Commissioner Jonathan Motl.

Chuck Johnson, Sally Mauk and Mike Dennison
Eliza Wiley

On the final "Capitol Talk" of the 2015 session, Sally, Chuck, and Mike talk about the death of the infrastructure bill, the session's winners and losers, and how the outcome might affect the 2016 election.

Chuck Johnson, Sally Mauk and Mike Dennison
Eliza Wiley

This week on "Capitol Talk": The Flathead water compact and "dark money" disclosure bills are on their way to the Governor's desk. Work remains on the state budget, the pay plan, and infrastructure funding bill. Will the legislature adjourn early? Sally, Chuck, and Mike bring you up to speed on this week at the legislature.

'Dark Money' Disclosure Bill Advances At State Legislature

Apr 14, 2015
Sen. Duane Ankney (R) SD20
Montana Legislature

A bill to shine more light on the donors to political campaigns continues to advance at the Montana Legislature.

The so-called Dark Money bill was in the House today after previously passing the Senate.

Legislative Roundup: Medicaid Expansion, State Budget Advance

Apr 12, 2015
From left, House Speaker Austin Knudsen, R-Culbertson, Rep. Jeff Essmann, R-Billings, and Minority Leader Chuck Hunter, D-Helena, debate rules on the House floor April 8.
Michael Wright - UM Community News Service

After wrangling over rules, the last remaining bill to expand Medicaid at the 64th Montana Legislature appears to be headed to the governor’s desk.

During this week's Capitol Talk, Sally, Chuck and Mike look forward to what's sure to be a heated debate in the House over Republican Sen. Edward Buttrey's Medicaid bill to expand coverage to the working poor.

They also discuss Republican Rep. Duane Ankney's dark money bill as it takes a step closer the Gov. Bullock's desk.

"Capitol Talk," our weekly legislative news and analysis program, appears on Fridays throughout the legislative session. MTPR's Sally Mauk is joined by Lee Newspapers reporters Chuck Johnson and Mike Dennison.

Coal & Oil Taxes On Tuesday's Legislative Agenda

Mar 23, 2015
Montana capitol, Helena.
William Marcus

Tuesday at the Montana Legislature, one state legislator goes on the defensive to protect Colstrip power plants and the surrounding community. Senator Duane Ankney is from Colstrip and says House Bill 402 is meant to keep the coal-fired plants in business.

Recently, Washington’s state Senate passed a bill to research the effects of Washington utilities closing some coal-powered utilities including the Colstrip Generating Station, which is partially owned by Bellevue-based Puget Sound Energy.

State Budget Hearings Begin Wednesday At The Montana Legislature

Mar 17, 2015
Montana capitol, Helena.
William Marcus

Wednesday, the debate at the Montana Legislature begins over the state-wide budget in House Bill 2. The bill gained only Republican support out of committee because it was more than $100 million less than the governor asked for.

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