Majority of Bullock’s council on clean-power rules has fossil-fuel, utility ties

Posted at 1:48 PM, Jan 05, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-05 14:48:41-05

Gov. Steve Bullock Tuesday appointed a citizen council to help draft Montana’s proposed rules to limit carbon emissions in the state – and the fossil-fuel and utility industries are well-represented.

At least 17 of the council’s 27 members have direct ties or are friendly to both industries, including operators, owners and workers at the coal-fired power plants at Colstrip in eastern Montana.

The council membership also includes representatives of groups promoting renewable power, such as wind and solar.

The council will help the state draft its proposed carbon-emission rules, which ultimately must be approved by U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Bullock said his goal is to devise a plan that will “drive economic growth and create and maintain good-paying jobs across Montana.”

“It will improve upon our traditional base of energy generation, while sparking a new generation of clean technology businesses, moving us to more renewable energy and encouraging innovation, savings and energy efficiency for homes and business,” he said in a statement.

Bullock, a Democrat, flew to Colstrip to announce the council’s membership.

The Interim Clean Power Plan Advisory Council will meet this year and advise the state Department of Environmental Quality, which is supposed to devise a plan to comply with EPA regulations by mid-summer.

However, DEQ Director Tom Livers has said the state expects to ask for an extension of the summer deadline.

The final EPA rule says Montana must reduce carbon emissions in the state by as much as 47 percent, by 2030 – one of the highest reductions of any state.

Critics of the rule have said it could lead to closure of the coal-fired power plants at Colstrip, ending hundreds of good-paying jobs.

Rule supporters have countered that market forces already will force at least two of the four Colstrip plants to close in the next several years, but that they expect the newer plants to survive.

Bullock’s appointees include:

Sen. Duane Ankney, R-Colstrip, a former coal mine manager.

Carl Borquist of Bozeman, president of Absaroka Energy, a renewable power company.

Public Service Commissioner Kirk Bushman, R-Billings, who represents a district that includes Colstrip.

Chris Christiaens of Great Falls, a former Democratic state senator and project specialist for the Montana Farmers Union.

Al Ekblad, executive secretary of the Montana AFL-CIO.

Gary Forrester of Billings, a lobbyist for MDU Resources, a Bismarck, N.D.-based firm that owns coal-fired and renewable power plants.

Dave Galt of Helena, a consultant and former executive director of the Montana Petroleum Association.

Paul Gatzmeier of Billings, a retired executive of natural gas and coal firms.

Kathy Hadley of Deer Lodge, executive director of the National Center for Appropriate Technology and president of the Montana Wildlife Federation.

Doug Hardy of Great Falls, general manager of Central Montana Electric Power Cooperative.

Bret Idle of Bozeman, attorney specializing in energy.

Sen. Jim Keane, D-Butte, a former union official.

Lorna Luebbe of Bellevue, Wash., of Puget Sound Energy, a major owner of the Colstrip plants.

Chuck Magraw of Helena, attorney specializing in renewable energy.

Darrin Old Coyote of Crow Agency, chairman of the Crow Indian Tribe.

Jim Orchard of Broomfield, Colo., senior vice president of Cloud Peak Energy, a coal-mining firm.

Bill Pascoe of Absarokee, an energy consultant.

Sen. Mike Phillips, D-Bozeman, a wildlife biologist.

Sunny Radcliffe of Portland, Ore., of Portland General Electric, a part-owner of the Colstrip plants.

Diego Rivas of Helena, senior policy associate, Northwest Energy Coalition.

John Roeber of Butte, Montana State Building and Construction Trades Council and International Brotherhood of Boilermakers.

Rex Rogers of Colstrip, IBEW Local 1638 business manager.

Tom Schneider of Helena, energy consultant and former state public service commissioner.

Darrell Soyars of Spokane, Wash., of Avista Corp., another part-owner of Colstrip plants.

Pat Sweeney of Billings, senior adviser to Western Organization of Resource Councils.

William Thompson of Butte, of NorthWestern Energy, which also owns part of Colstrip plants.