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Colstrip

Power plants at Colstrip pump steam high into the air.

Editor's clarification: Gov. Steve Bullock stated his support for the states' lawsuit over the Clean Air Act during a Nov. 12 press conference, according to his office and a recording. "I support that that litigation is going forward, but we can't wait around to see if those lawyers win in court," Bullock said while announcing the appointment of an advisory council to create a Montana compliance plan.


What happens if we lose Colstrip?

“It’ll look like Ground Zero.” That’s what the mayor of Colstrip told me last week. To Colstrip moms like Cheryl Fulkerson, it means her husband and her son may both lose their jobs in the coal industry. And, it means the place that she has called home for 21 years may no longer exist.

I could see the tears in Cheryl’s eyes as she introduced me to local officials and business owners concerned about the future of Colstrip. Even the realtor told me, “no homes are selling.”

But it’s not just Cheryl and the folks in Colstrip who will pay the price of the Obama carbon plan, or “the costly power plan” as I call it. The impacts will be devastating across Montana. Double-digit electric rate hikes. Thousands of jobs lost. I wouldn’t be surprised if the state of Montana would end up seeing more than $1 billion in lost economic activity.

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Colstrip isn’t the only coal community under attack. Recently, Gov. Steve Bullock’s appointees on the Montana Board of Environmental Review rejected the expansion of the Signal Peak coal mine south of Roundup.

Meanwhile, we have state leaders who can’t even clearly state: I am opposed to President Obama’s costly carbon plan and I support the lawsuit to stop it. If you can’t speak clearly in support of Attorney General Tim Fox, then you are standing alongside Barack Obama. We’ve already lost jobs at the Corette coal plant in Billings, and the fact that we even have to be saying the words "Save Colstrip" is a failure in state leadership in itself.

While folks may know my background creating hundreds of high-wage, high-tech jobs here in Montana, and that I’ve been fighting to create even more high-wage jobs in Big Sky Country, it is important that we don’t continue to lose the high-wage jobs that we’ve already got. President Obama’s plan will shut down high-wage coal mining jobs, and vital communities like Colstrip. We need leaders who will stand up and defend Montana.

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Greg Gianforte founded RightNow Technologies in Bozeman. He has been touring the state as a "potential" gubernatorial candidate for 2016.

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