In response to the Environmental Protection Agency’s announcement of new regulations for coal-fired power plants, Montana Director of Environmental Quality Tracy Stone-Manning stated that the new rules would have little impact on Montana because our state has existing regulations for new power plants that are similar to the new national rules. (Sept. 25 Missoulian, “State will comment on federal greenhouse gas rules.”)
While the director is technically correct, the problem with these regulations isn’t that they will prevent plants from being built in Montana, it is that they will prevent new plants from being built anywhere in the country.
Just like any other commodity produced in our state (i.e. grain, beef, timber or oil), coal produced here in Montana is generally shipped to other states. In fact, more than 75 percent of Montana’s coal is consumed outside Montana. The EPA ruling, although it may not cause a direct change in Montana’s regulations, will kill future demand for Montana coal.