Tom Power

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

A study released Wednesday says that complying with President Obama's Clean Power Plan will cost Montana more than 7,000 jobs and more than $2 billion in wages and sales. Those numbers were quickly trumpeted by Montana elected officials who oppose the nationwide plan to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, including Attorney General Tim Fox, who has joined Montana to a multi-state lawsuit to halt the plan.

Montana coal boosters, including the coal companies themselves, have been warning Montanans that if they do not embrace unlimited coal exports to Asia, Montana will lose thousands of coal mining jobs while gaining nothing in the form of environmental protection.

Green-Washing Coal Mining And Coal Exports

Aug 27, 2014

The Oregon Department of State Lands recently denied a permit to Ambre Energy for its proposed coal shipping port on the Columbia River at Boardman. That proposed Morrow Pacific coal port is the smallest of the three coal ports still under consideration in the Pacific Northwest to move Powder River Basin coal from Montana and Wyoming to Asian markets.

Word-Play As A Solution To Western Wildfires

Aug 15, 2014

The 2014 Western wildfire season got an early start with large fires in Washington and Oregon that left those living in Western Montana gagging on the resulting smoke that seemed to be continuously recycled through our valleys. As the summer progresses, we all have our fingers crossed that our own home-grown wildfires will not re-create the “nuclear winter” of thick smoke blocking out the sun at mid-day that we have had to live through in summers past.

Dealing with a “Speculative and Uncertain” Future

When Planning Electric Supply Acquisitions

Coping with a New Cold War in Central Europe: Ukraine and Russia

          Our aging old and bellicose new young cold warriors are rattling their rhetorical sabers and urging that the American military machine rattle loudly some real military equipment to chase the Russians out of Ukraine and end the Russian intimidation of the Ukrainian people.

New Efforts to Fire Proof Our Forests:  The Initiative Built into the 2014 Farm Bill[1]

Confusing Politics and Economics in Electric Supply Decisions

The Flight from Coal in U.S. Electricity Production


          In the late 1990s as the Montana Power Company exited the electric utility industry and headed for bankruptcy as a telecommunication company, Montana Power sold off all of its Montana electric generating facilities to Pennsylvania Power and Light. The utility that bought Montana Power’s electric and natural gas delivery system of pipes and wires, NorthWestern Energy, is now trying to buy back those Montana hydroelectric facilities.

Buying Back the Dams: An Important Billion Dollar Decision for Montana


          When NorthWestern Energy announced last year that it had entered into an agreement to buy back the hydroelectric facilities that the Montana Power Company once owned, most Montana’s probably smiled a little , thinking that a serious public policy mistake of the 1990s was about to be corrected.