Lawmaker: Washington state coal plan hurts Montana

Published on NewsOK Modified: May 12, 2014 at 6:12 pm •  Published: May 12, 2014
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BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A Republican congressman from Montana said Monday that his state's power generation and mining industries would suffer under a Washington state proposal to cut carbon pollution by eliminating imports of coal-fired power.

U.S. Rep. Steve Daines called on Washington Gov. Jay Inslee to reconsider an executive order the Democrat signed in April to reduce Washington's greenhouse gas emissions. Inslee's plan includes phasing out electricity generated from burning coal, although no timeline has been established.

The vast majority of Washington's electricity comes from hydropower, with just over 13 percent coming from coal. But coal is responsible for almost 80 percent of utilities' emissions of carbon dioxide — a gas that scientists say is helping drive climate change.

Most of Washington's coal-generated electricity comes from power plants in Montana and Wyoming. By setting the goal of eliminating "coal by wire," Inslee has put himself at odds with elected officials in the two states.

"Your policy would have serious consequences for Montana jobs, the financial integrity of financial institutions and the price of electricity for families and businesses across the region," Daines wrote in a letter to Inslee. The first-term Republican lawmaker is running for U.S. Senate and met with coal industry representatives in Billings on Monday to tout his efforts on their behalf.

Inslee has made climate change one of his key issues. He issued the April order after a bipartisan panel of state legislators deadlocked on strategies to reduce the state's greenhouse gas emissions.