Helena, Mont. – Governor Steve Bullock issued the following statement regarding settlement of the lawsuit by Sierra Club and the Montana Environmental Information Center (MEIC) against the owners of the Colstrip facility, and the commitment by Talen Energy and Puget Sound Energy, the owners of Colstrip Units 1 and 2 to close those units by 2022.
“I stand with the workers and the community of Colstrip in being angry about this settlement outcome. The parties of this lawsuit took care of themselves. I am going to work to take care of the employees and their families,” said Governor Bullock. “The task before us is large but achievable: we will protect the people of Colstrip and their families, keep energy flowing out of Colstrip, and harness the energy jobs of the future – without propping up out-of-state corporations with taxpayer resources.”
Governor Bullock is reaching out to community leaders, including Colstrip Mayor John Williams, Senator Duane Ankney, and Representative Geraldine Custer, to tell them that the state will continue to have discussions about options for the units at Colstrip.
Tomorrow, Wednesday, July 13 Governor Bullock will be meeting with Angela Martinez, the new Regional Director of the Economic Development Administration, to discuss options for economic development grants that would enable Colstrip to strengthen its economic base.
Governor Bullock has directed his Director of Economic Development for Eastern Montana, Liz Ching, to be on the ground in Colstrip and be available to discuss and address concerns from Colstrip leaders and the community.
- In July 2016, Governor Bullock released his Energy Blueprint, where he committed to continuing to “work with Colstrip owners, workers, customers, the community, and others to explore creative options for ensuring the continued viability of those plants; continue to argue for fair treatment for Montana and Montana’s coal industry in any effort by the federal government to address climate change; and continue to support the development of Montana commodities markets overseas.”
- In the Energy Blueprint, the Governor announced his intention to take the Regional Haze program back from the federal government during the next planning cycle, which will ensure that critical future choices about Colstrip units 3 and 4 are made by Montanans.
- At the Governor’s request, the U.S. Department of Energy is assessing the potential for retrofitting units 3 and 4 for carbon capture and use of the CO2 in enhanced oil recovery. In July, Department of Energy (DOE) officials visited Colstrip. When DOE completes its analysis, the Governor anticipates asking agency officials to come to Montana and present their findings to key stakeholders.
- In late May 2016, Governor Bullock held an energy roundtable discussion in Colstrip to discuss Montana’s energy and economic future, saying that, “coal is going to be a significant part of Montana’s energy future.”
- In early May 2016, Governor Bullock invited three owners of Colstrip (Kimberly Harris, CEO of Puget Sound Energy; Paul Farr, CEO of Talen Energy; and Bob Rowe, CEO of Northwestern Energy) to discuss the future of the plant. Last week, he met with the CEO of Westmoreland Company, which owns the mine at Colstrip, for a similar discussion.
- In April 2016, Governor Bullock sent a letter to the CEO of Northwestern Energy, telling him “we must make every effort to explore alternative ownership of Colstrip Units 1, 2, and 3.”
- In early April 2016, Governor Bullock expressed disappointment at Washington Governor Jay Inslee’s decision to sign Washington SB 6248, saying “now we need to redouble our efforts to fight for Montanans whose livelihoods depend on coal and develop responsible, Montana-made energy that will keep our economy competitive and create more good-paying jobs.”
- In January 2016, Governor Bullock wrote a letter to the Washington Legislature offering his comments and expressing concerns about Washington SB 6248 and asked the legislature to defer the bill until the next legislative session and had several direct conversations with Governor Jay Inslee expressing his concerns about SB 6248’s impact on Montana and asked Inslee to veto the bill.
- Throughout 2015 and 2016, Governor Bullock and members of his staff, together with Montana Sen. Keane, Sen. Ankney, Sen. Ripley, and Sen. Larson worked with the Washington Legislature to make significant improvements to Washington SB 6248 during the legislative process.
- The Governor has directed his Department of Labor and Governor’s Office of Economic Development to be in consistent and ongoing discussions with economic development officials in the region to ensure the ongoing economic vitality of the community and its workers.