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By Sammy Roth, Los Angeles Times

This is the Feb. 10, 2022, edition of Boiling Point, a weekly newsletter about climate change and the environment in California and the American West. 


Montana’s Lewis and Clark Station shut its doors on March 31. But coal is far from dead in Big Sky Country.

Anne Hedges, director of policy and legislative affairs at the Montana Environmental Information Center, tells me Colstrip Steam Electric Station is “the most complex [coal] plant in the nation,” and I’m inclined to agree with her. The two generating units have six different owners serving utility customers across nine states, and they disagree on if or when to shut the plant down.

The fight has pitted plant owners based in Oregon and Washington — where state laws require electric utilities to get out of the coal business — against South Dakota-based NorthWestern Corp. and Talen Energy, a subsidiary of New York private equity firm Riverstone Holdings. The battle involves several lawsuits, some focused on legally dubious measures passed by the Montana Legislature and signed by Gov. Greg Gianforte designed to keep Colstrip running beyond an expected closure date of 2025.

“NorthWestern has been doing everything in its power to force the other owners to keep that plant operating,” Hedges said.


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