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Montana, coal industry in wait and see mode over proposed EPA rule changes

Posted at 4:51 PM, Aug 22, 2018
and last updated 2018-08-22 18:51:50-04

HELENA – The Trump Administration is proposing new rules that would allow states to relax limits on greenhouse-gas emissions from coal-fired power plants and in Montana, Gov. Steve Bullock and a coal-industry spokesman say it’s too soon to know what that means for plants here.

The Trump proposal would abolish former President Obama’s Clean Power Plan and allow states to come up with their own plan, on regulating greenhouse gases, like carbon dioxide. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency would then review those plans, three years from now.

Congressman Greg Gianforte, R-Mont., has hailed the move saying that the Obama Administration had waged a costly and unnecessary war on coal, costing jobs and raising electricity prices.

A spokesman for Montana’s coal industry said it’s better to deal with state regulators than the feds but the impact depends on what the state actually does. Bullock told MTN News on Tuesday that his administration needs time to evaluate the rule.

But an official with one of Montana’s leading environmental groups said the move is a terrible idea that won’t address climate change or public health.

“If we want to reduce wildfires, if we want to make it so people in Montana can breathe in the summertime — especially in August — then perhaps it’s time to start reducing pollution from the number one source,” said Anne Hedges with the Montana Environmental Information Center. “The Clean Power Plan was an attempt to start to mitigate some of those problems. Instead, this takes us in exactly the wrong direction.”

“First of all, I think we really do have to understand what the rule does,” Gov. Bullock said. “I think that we as a country are better off if we set goals and figure out how we can actually reduce climate change.”

The states will have 60 days to comment on the Trump administration’s new rule.