Montana carbon conversation reveals state’s ideological divide


A STATE DIVIDED: Opinions are split across Montana when it comes to the EPA’s proposed carbon regulations.

By Josh Kaib |

Montana is in the midst of an important conversation about the future of energy and climate change, but the reaction from the public suggests a deep divide in the state over how to respond to proposed EPA carbon standards.

Last week, the Montana Department of Environmental Quality held a series of three public meetings in Billings, Colstrip and Missoula to discuss plans to comply with the proposed EPA carbon rule.

In the first two, a majority of attendees spoke out against the carbon regulations, especially in coal country’s Colstrip, but in Missoula the crowd struck a different tone.

As one might expect, Tracy Stone-Manning, the agency’s director, got a different earful in Missoula than what she received in Billings and Colstrip, the two other communities on the tour.

“In the other locations we heard more concern about the ability to meet this target,” Stone-Manning told Montana Public Radio, “and in Missoula we heard concerns about this target not being tough enough.”

DEQ’s meeting in Colstrip, in contrast, was attended by more than 200 workers in the coal industry, many of whom worked at the Colstrip plant. They gave the agency a chilly reception. One farmer in attendance was the only person to speak out favorably and suggested the standards need to be tougher.

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