FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 21, 2021
Contact: Anne Hedges, Montana Environmental Information Center, firstname.lastname@example.org, (406) 443-2520; ext. 102
MONTANA – NorthWestern Energy today announced its intention to withdraw its application at the Montana Public Service Commission for the proposed methane gas plant, which would have been constructed in Laurel, Montana.
The Montana Environmental Information Center (MEIC) has opposed the construction of the gas plant since it was originally proposed due to a number of concerns, including its impact on the climate crisis and the rising costs of gas-fired power vs. renewable energy.
“Montana is burning and smoke-filled skies are harming people’s health. Severe drought across the state is harming agriculture and our recreation economy. The Laurel gas plant would have made these even worse,” Anne Hedges, MEIC Director of Policy said. “We’re relieved that NorthWestern is withdrawing the application. It’s time for Montana to move forward with affordable, clean energy.”
Montana’s monopoly utility formally announced its gas plant proposal in May 2021, following a tumultuous legislative session in which NorthWestern lobbied for a number of bills that would have increased its profits at customers’ expense. In 2019, NorthWestern Energy released a disastrous 20-year energy plan that relied heavily upon investments in gas, neglecting to account for investments in renewable, clean, and affordable energy production.
MEIC, along with dozens of Montana partners and thousands of NorthWestern customers, vocally opposed this decision, causing the Public Service Commission to formally criticize the plan and NorthWestern Energy’s lack of transparency.
Despite these setbacks, NorthWestern Energy continued to pursue the goals in their 2019 plan, even as MEIC partnered with other Montana organizations to help inform and educate the public about the costs and dangers of extracting, transporting, and burning gas for energy.
“This is a victory for the climate and for Montana,” Hedges said. “Gas — and all fossil fuels — carry extreme costs to human and environmental health, and we must find clean and affordable alternatives as soon as possible.”
About MEIC: MEIC is a non-partisan, non-profit environmental advocate dedicated to ensuring clean air and water for Montana’s future generations. www.meic.org