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Groups Push Clean Energy, Despite Clean Power Plan Setback

Conservation groups want Montana to rely less on coal-fired power plants such as Colstrip, even though the U.S. Supreme Court put the Clean Power Plan on hold. (Talen Energy)
Conservation groups want Montana to rely less on coal-fired power plants such as Colstrip, even though the U.S. Supreme Court put the Clean Power Plan on hold. (Talen Energy)
February 12, 2016

HELENA, Mont. - Conservation and clean-energy groups are urging Montana to continue its path toward renewable energy despite a setback this week, when the U.S. Supreme Court put a temporary hold on the Clean Power Plan while it's in litigation.

Montana is one of 27 states that sued the Environmental Protection Agency to block the plan, which would require the state to reduce carbon emissions at power plants by 47 percent to help slow climate change. Opponents fear this will cost jobs at plants such as Colstrip and eventually force it to close.

Kathy Hadley, board chair for the Montana Wildlife Federation, said the state can protect its overall economy by investing in clean energy.

"Agriculture and tourism, hunting and fishing - those are the biggest economic engines we have in the state," she said. "We've already seen major impacts to those industries because of climate change. So, we all need to keep working together to see if we can't make some changes."

The District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals will hear the case in June and is expected to rule later this year, but that decision may be appealed back up to the Supreme Court. Hadley said she is confident the Clean Power Plan ultimately will be upheld.

In the meantime, said Ben Brouwer, policy director for the Montana Renewable Energy Association, the state needs an energy plan that's "Made in Montana."

"We need to modernize Montana's energy economy or really risk getting left behind," he said. "The market is quickly changing. To drive innovation and new energy-sector job growth, it's time to double down on Montana's commitment to solar, wind and energy efficiency."

Brouwer urged the state's leaders to commit to developing Montana's rooftop solar market, push for greater energy efficiency and lead the charge to open up West Coast energy markets to Montana's wind farms.

The text of the court's stay is online at supremecourt.gov.

Suzanne Potter, Public News Service - MT