Four years ago, President Obama campaigned on eliminating coal from America’s energy mix.
And, unlike many campaign promises, this one is coming true.
Recently, Billings was shaken when we learned that the Corette coal-fired electrical generator in Yellowstone County will be shut down due to new, Obama-administration regulations. What has been happening in many other parts of the country, but we thought would never happen here, hit us squarely where it hurts: in our community and economy.
Corette isn’t the first generator that is being mothballed due to the Obama administration’s War on Coal. Already, 204 generating facilities in 25 states — representing 31 gigawatts of generating capacity — will go off line as a direct result of a barrage of carefully implemented new Environmental Protection Agency rules aimed at ending coal production and use.
Sixty percent of Montana’s electricity comes from coal. At 154 megawatts, enough to power 100,000 homes, Corette represents a significant share of our energy mix that will now have to be replaced.
The likely result will be that electricity for Montana will come from possibly out-of-state sources, causing prices in Montana to spike in coming years.
And Corette isn’t the only plant in Montana that is in jeopardy. Obama’s EPA already has additional proposed regulations on the drawing board aimed at power plants like the larger Colstrip generators. Piling several of these regulations on top of each other causes compliance costs to skyrocket, making it nearly impossible for many existing power generators to stay in business. For Obama and his politically motivated EPA supporters, that’s the whole point.
Losing Corette put 35 hardworking Montanans out of work. This comes at a time when Montana is in the critical first stages of an energy boom that can create thousands of new jobs. Not to mention the increased tax revenues that go along with more Montana coal production. Sadly, we’re heading in the opposite direction.
Losing Corette also represents a loss of $2 million in property tax revenue a year for Yellowstone County. That’s money that goes to our schools, our roads, water and sewer infrastructure, and all the other important services government provides for our community. That’s $2 million that will be very difficult to replace.
Make no mistake, President Obama and the environmental activists entrenched in his administration and the EPA know exactly what they are doing. Closing Corette wasn’t an “unintended consequence” — it was the plan.
Our own Sen. Jon Tester was warned that these new EPA regulations that are forcing Corette to close would be devastating to Montana coal-fired generators, but he voted for them anyway.
We have a right to expect better from our elected representatives. When we elected Jon Tester, we sent him to protect our interests. In this case he failed. He has a responsibility to make it right.
Senate District 26