Recent Posts

In Legislature’s aftermath, few answers for Colstrip

When Montana’s 2017 Legislature adjourned on April 28, Sen. Duane Ankney, R-Colstrip, found himself in much the same position as when the session began. At the session’s beginning, he helped draw up several bills that would help his community, which is facing the impending closure of two out of four units at its massive coal-fired electrical plant. By the time lawmakers left the Capitol, many of the bills—aimed at easing impacts on jobs, tax revenues and real estate—were dead. (more…) Continue Reading →

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Opinion: Colstrip bill could derail clean energy future


Colstrip’s old coal-fired power units are losing money and that means their days are numbered. Units 1 and 2 are closing by 2022 at the latest and maybe sooner.  We need to make sure Colstrip’s operators fulfill their responsibilities in helping the state deal with the economic loss to workers, the community and the environment.  But, we have another problem. Legislation has been proposed that doesn’t just hold Colstrip’s operators accountable—it punishes them.  And, as good as retribution may feel, the problem is that it will also scare away developers and companies whose investments we want and need. (more…) Continue Reading →

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Montana Viewpoint: The simple virtues of Jess Nelson


Jess Nelson was a machinist in Thompson Falls for many years. He was good at it, but what he was really good at was standing up for honesty and justice. He was my friend, and I think of him often even though he died many years ago. He had been in a nursing home for a couple of years, and by coincidence I happened to be sitting in his living room when I heard that he had died earlier that day. It was my birthday. Continue Reading →

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A New York coal plant’s lessons for Colstrip


Compared with the coal-fired power plant in Colstrip, the Huntley Generating Station in Tonawanda, N.Y., was not all that large. At its height, when all six units of the Huntley plant were operating, the power station could generate up to 598 megawatts of electricity—compared to a capacity of 2,094 megawatts at Colstrip’s four units. (more…) Continue Reading →

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Guilty only of birth, Kiddo steps out


Our recalcitrant grandson finally made his appearance early Tuesday afternoon, two weeks late and after a day-and-a-half of hard labor in a Missoula hospital. I had been joking that the baby would refuse to appear until after the Nov. 8 election. Perhaps it’s no coincidence that he showed up when Hillary Clinton’s lead in the presidential polls went into double digits. The coast is clearing. Continue Reading →

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Opinion: Economics, not politics, changing coal industry


A recent spate of political ads on TV show the Montana Republican party blaming potential job losses at Colstrip and a downturn in coal production in Montana on Gov. Steve Bullock and the Democratic Party in general. Since we have spent an inordinate amount of time looking at coal issues over the past decade and more, we feel some responsibility to try to respond to this issue so that others will not be misled by blatant coal industry propaganda. (more…) Continue Reading →

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Colstrip: At the intersection of coal and climate change


On a blustery December evening, Gene Wier and his grown son Bryan are wrenching on hand-built hot rods in their machine shop on the edge of Colstrip. There’s bright light, good grease smells, a football game on the TV. They tell me to come on in. When Gene ran for town council a few years back, he recalls, he was asked to sum up what makes this town of 2,300 residents unique. His answer cut to the basics: “We have a coal plant in our front yard, and a coal mine in our back yard.”

And like most people around here, he likes it that way. Continue Reading →

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The ups and downs of high school football alignments


High-school football season, like smoke from a not-so-distant wildfire, once again has descended upon Montana. Observing the realignments and reclassifications of Montana High School Association members provides a learning moment for students of the sociology, economics and history of this ever-changing state. (more…) Continue Reading →

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4-H club makes sure absent friend doesn’t miss fair


Sydney Hedges was not able to attend the Rosebud-Treasure County Fair in Forsyth over the weekend, but she was there—and not just in spirit. While the 15-year-old was in Denver being treated for a recurrence of brain cancer, other members of her Red Rock 4-H Club in Colstrip were showing her miniature steer and lamb, which they had spent weeks feeding, bathing, grooming and clipping. (more…) Continue Reading →

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