The Montana coal industry exists to support the generation of electricity. All but a tiny fraction of the coal mined in Montana is eventually converted to electricity. In recent years, over half the electricity generated in Montana has come from coal-fired plants. Almost three-quarters of the coal mined in Montana is exported, primarily to Midwestern utilities. Even though new generating stations built around the country in the recent past have relied on natural gas or wind, coal continues to provide half of the nation's electricity.
The EPA is proposing a tough new regulation on the energy sector, by creating a New Source Performance Standard for CO2 proposal that requires new fossil fuel electric generators to release no more than 1,000 pounds of CO2 per megawatt hour. No currently operating coal-fired plant comes close to achieving this level. Coal plants fitted with carbon capture and storage equipment could meet the new standards, but the cost would surpass the cost of new natural gas cycle plants. The CCS equipment would increase costs around 80 percent for pulverized coal plant electricity. To put it simply, the EPA has created yet another standard that no coal plant can meet.
In Montana, we want job opportunities as well as clean air, land and water. A balanced energy strategy would give us all of that. Investment in energy sources and technologies, that are clean, innovative and native to Montana promises widespread economic prosperity in rural parts of the state. Until this can be achieved by other sources, coal will remain our primary source of electricity.