Montana Regulators Force $285M Cleanup Bond on Coal Company

Talen Energy, the owner of the Colstrip Power Plant, filed an objection to dispute the decision

By Associated Press

BILLINGS — Montana environmental regulators have forced the owners of a power plant to provide a $285 million cleanup bond, a move some local organizations hailed as a victory for conservation.

But Talen Energy, the owner of the Colstrip Power Plant, filed an objection Thursday to dispute the regulators’ decision, calling it “grossly excessive.”

There is disagreement between Talen and the environmental community as to whether the 6.7 million cubic yards (5.1 million cubic meters) of toxic coal ash in the facility should be completely removed, the Billings Gazette reported.

Talen wrote in its objection that the state environmental regulators picked the “most expensive and invasive remedy” when there are other options at lower costs.

The Northern Plains Resource Council has long advocated for completely removing the coal ash and storing it in a landfill away from groundwater. The group has also said the large-scale cleanup would create jobs for residents in the area.

“This is another example of a corporation trying to serve its bottom line, regardless of what’s good for workers or the community,” said Clint McRae, a rancher and member of the council who lives outside Colstrip.

“The science is clear on this one. Excavation is the only way to ensure clean water for the future of Colstrip. Talen’s decision is a major blow to adjacent landowners and agriculture, and puts a lot of cleanup jobs at risk.”

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