Gazette opinion: New litigation complicates Colstrip’s future

Gazette opinion: New litigation complicates Colstrip’s future

News Type: State Source: Billings Gazette
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Colstrip had been grappling with an uncertain future with the scheduled shutdown of part of the power plant that employs about 320 people and indirectly provides employment for most of the rest of the community’s workers. Recent lawsuits have added to the community’s worries.

The Rosebud Mine, which provides coal to power the Colstrip plant, is to be sold at auction on Jan. 22, as reported last weekend in The Billings Gazette by Tom Lutey. The sale was approved by U.S. Bankruptcy Court to help pay debts of the mine’s owner, Westmoreland Coal, which filed for bankruptcy on Oct. 8.

Meanwhile, the Montana Department of Environmental Quality is reviewing Westmoreland’s application to greatly expand the Rosebud Mine, which it apparently will not own three months from now.

More than 50 springs would be destroyed by the mine expansion, Northern Plains Resource Council said last week. The Billings-based group asked DEQ to stop the permitting process — at least till the mine developer is identified.