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Colstrip power plant view

The Colstrip units 1, 2, 3 and 4 produce power for the Pacific Northwest. The plants face an uncertain future.

Thirty million dollars a year in lost royalties, hundreds of direct jobs lost, thousands of families out of work and out of options, entire towns destroyed, statewide economic ripples, and over $1 trillion dollars in stranded assets, not necessarily because of market forces, but directly attributable to a political agenda. That is what we face in the current and unprecedented assault on reason and Montana’s economy in what has been dubbed “the War on Coal.”

The coal tax fund is a resource for Montana’s school children, projects to improve disabled citizen’s access, local parks, and helps to maintain some of rural Montana's way of life. While environmental groups applaud coal’s demise, Montanans will start to feel the impact.

Extremist editorial

Apparently now the Billing’s Gazette’s editorial board sees fit to join with the environmental extremist in advocating a "keep it in the ground" strategy. According to the Gazette editorial board, Montana’s schools, communities and people are disposable assets, relics of the past in an environmentalist utopia built on the bones of our “dirty” energy economy.

Editors at the Billings Gazette are following a radical path of destruction for the Montana economy, as they did in the recent editorial “Montana can’t stake its future on coal.” The Gazette now seems to celebrate the demise of Colstrip along with the Sierra Club.

The activist rhetoric in this biased editorial against the 75 percent of Montanans who think we should develop our coal resources as we see fit in Montana is deplorable and downright irresponsible. The tone deaf nature of the anti-coal, anti-Montana propaganda being produced by the Gazette editorial board as its readers face an uncertain future brought on by regulatory assaults designed explicitly to destroy an entire industry should not be a point for celebration in Montana.

Daines, Bullock, Fox right

Environmental extremists say Sen. Steve Daines, Gov. Steve Bullock, and Attorney General Tim Fox are wrong about defending coal leases and a future for Colstrip using clean coal technology. These unreasonable voices don’t realize Montana can lead a technology revolution for addressing our global climate challenge. These voices say that there is no price too high to pay to make a meaningless gesture like Obama’s carbon crusade that will, even by its own designer’s standards have no discernible impact on the global climate.

Daines, Bullock and Fox are right, and representing Montana's best interests. The Gazette editorial board is out of touch and lacking foresight. With advancements in technology and a little elbow grease Montana is still poised to maintain its place as an energy producer and exporter without crippling our fine state.

Carbon capture and combined cycle technology can solve the global climate challenge posed in part by the world’s more than 7,000 coal-fired power plants. At Colstrip, the Boilermakers and other building trades crafts (who have improved and maintained the facility since it was built) are the type of craftsmen who can be counted on to build and install the design changes needed to keep these plants operational to 2030 and beyond. We know that by applying our knowledge and expertise we can build a Montana made Colstrip demonstration project for carbon capture technology that is directly employable to clean up coal plants around the world.

Putting our head in the sand and saying we have to sacrifice our Montana way of life and economy to achieve a clean energy future is ludicrous, and a part of the destructive extreme, non-compromising logic I dream of seeing come to an end. 

Jason Small, of Busby, Montana is president of Boilermakers Local 11, a cattle rancher, and a member of the Northern Cheyenne Tribe.