May 13, 2014 in Nation/World

Montana congressman says Inslee’s coal plan would hurt his state

Matthew Brown Associated Press
 

Daines
(Full-size photo)

BILLINGS – A Republican congressman from Montana said Monday that his state’s coal and mining industries would suffer under a proposal to cut carbon pollution in Washington state.

U.S. Rep. Steve Daines called on Washington Gov. Jay Inslee to reconsider an executive order signed by the Democrat in April to reduce Washington’s greenhouse gas emissions. The plan includes phasing out electricity generated from burning coal.

All three of Washington’s private utilities get some of their power from Montana’s Colstrip power plant, which they also co-own.

“Your policy would have serious consequences for Montana jobs, the financial integrity of financial institutions and the price of electricity for families and businesses across the region,” Daines wrote in a letter to Inslee that his office provided to the Associated Press.

A spokeswoman for Inslee, Lisa Harper, did not have an immediate response. The governor has made climate change one of his key issues. He issued the April order after a bipartisan panel of state legislators deadlocked on strategies to reduce the state’s greenhouse gas emissions.

Inslee said at the time that it was “the right time to act.”

The vast majority of Washington’s electricity comes from hydropower, with just over 13 percent coming from coal. Yet coal is responsible for almost 80 percent of Washington utilities’ emissions of carbon dioxide – a gas that scientists say is helping drive climate change.

Most of the state’s coal-generated electricity comes from power plants in Montana and Wyoming. By setting the goal of eliminating so-called “coal by wire,” Inslee has set himself at odds with elected officials in the two states.

Washington utility Puget Sound Energy Inc. has a 32 percent stake in Colstrip, a 2,100-megawatt plant operated by PPL Montana. Washington’s two other utilities, Avista and PacifiCorp, have a combined stake in Colstrip of 18 percent.

Daines, who is running for U.S. Senate, planned to meet with Montana coal industry representatives in Billings on Monday.

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