I think we need to put more focus on our natural resources in Montana. Coal is a low-cost, plentiful and reliable energy source that provides jobs and tax revenues. Signal Peak Energy and its Bull Mountain coal mine south of Roundup makes a large contribution to the local economy. The mine has 325 workers, of which 190 of them are from Yellowstone County, and a $39 million annual payroll.
While coal is under increasing scrutiny as a source of greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming, we need to take a serious look at environmental laws. We're literally pricing ourselves out of the markets if we don't compete. Now the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) plans to issue greenhouse gas (GHG) new source performance standard regulations for new fossil fuel-based electric generating sources. The proposed rule will set a standard that is unprecedented under the Clean Air Act and will prevent upgrades of existing plants to improve efficiency and facilitate more electricity generation with less' fuel and less emissions. This is simply a matter of regulatory policy and ignores the promise that new technology holds for cleaner-burning coal.
I'm sure Gov. Steve Bullock also has a sharp focus on Montana's economic development, and I will ask that his administration join me to encourage the EPA to amend these proposed regulations and let the federal regulators know how important coal is to our state and our energy future. We must create new jobs and strengthen the economy of Montana through a technology-based approach to the GHG issue.
Yellowstone County Commissioner