Oct 23, 2012 9:41 AM by Angela Douglas - Q2 News
BILLINGS - It's been less than a month since PPL Montana announced that it will mothball the JE Corette power plant in Billings in three years. Within that time, Denny Rehberg's Senate Campaign has turned the announcement into political ammunition against incumbent Senator Jon Tester.
Following the announcement, the vice president of PPL Montana stated the decision is due to a combination of economic factors and pending environmental regulations.
It's those EPA regulations that has Rehberg pointing the finger at Tester.
Monday in Billings, Oklahoma U.S. Senator Jim Inhofe joined forces with Rehberg in blasting EPA regulations they believe are hurting the nation's coal industry.
"Missouri, Montana and Ohio are three of the largest coal states of all the states," stated Sen. Inhofe. "In each one of these states, you have a democrat incumbent senator who has voted to kill coal."
"Rather than costing 35 jobs, we ought to be looking for opportunity to increase, put people back to work and help our economy by increasing our oil, gas and coal production in Montana," Rep. Rehberg added.
Sen. Inhofe is the top republican on the Environment and Public Works Committee. If the GOP wins senate majority in the upcoming election, he will be named chairman of the committee.
Sen. Tester took an aggressive approach against PPL over the weekend.
During the MTN U.S. Senate debate in Bozeman, Tester attacked the ethics of the Pennsylvania-based company
"PPL was in my office, unequivocally said they could deal with these rules. The problem they had was with coal ash and haze and we've been working on that issue. They could meet those standards," Sen. Tester said Saturday night. "What PPL has chosen to do, and what the Congressman has done with his political play on it, they've chosen to make investments in Latin America, not in Montana. We've been here before and that's not the way it should be, that's not a good company. A company that doesn't pay $45 million in their taxes to the state of Montana, this is not a quality company. They're manipulating not only their workers, but the Congressman on this issue."
Also during Saturday's debate, Sen. Tester said the timing of PPL's announcement on mothballing its Billings plant was politically motivated; not done as a courtesy to its employees who stand to lose their jobs, as PPL officials have maintained.