“Your agency missed the mark”: Tester Raises Montanans’ Concerns to EPA Chief Over Power Plant Rule That Could Shutter Colstrip, Hike Energy Costs

Following up on their recent committee hearing exchange, Senator calls on Administrator Regan to “explore a path forward” that won’t shutter Colstrip;

Tester: “Rules made in Washington, D.C. need to actually make sense on the ground and I believe your agency missed the mark on this one”

As part of his efforts to bring down energy costs and support good-paying Montana jobs, U.S. Senator Jon Tester today sent a letter to EPA Administrator Michael Regan following up on concerns he has heard directly from Montanans about the final Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS) rule that could result in the early closure of Colstrip Power Plant.

In his letter, Tester reiterated the remarks he made to Administrator Regan during a recent a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing expressing concerns that the MATS rule could hike energy costs and slash good-paying Montana jobs: “As I made clear during the Senate Appropriations hearing, safe, reliable energy generation is critical to good-paying jobs, keeping costs down for consumers and maintaining public health during extreme weather events. Rules made in Washington, D.C. need to actually make sense on the ground and I believe your agency missed the mark on this one.”

Tester called out the Biden Administration for specifically targeting Colstrip and wrote that it is “not acceptable” that the rule targets a single energy source that is essential to Montana: “The EPA’s final MATS rule mentions Colstrip by name 13 times, and acknowledges that these two units are the only ones projected to install the most costly particulate matter control upgrade option to come into compliance. It is simply not acceptable for the federal government to issue a rule that directly targets a singular energy source that supplies a significant portion of Montana’s energy without providing a reasonable timeline to replace the potential job and energy production loss.”

Tester pressed the EPA to “explore a path forward that improves clean air standards without putting Montana ratepayers and a Montana community at risk,” and specifically called on the agency to clarify two aspects of the rule. First, Tester requested clarity on the “additional flexibilities” mentioned in the rule, asking: “What additional details can the agency provide on these flexibilities that will be available to bring Colstrip into compliance without bankrupting their facility and leaving thousands of Montanans out in the cold?” Secondly, Tester pressed Administrator Regan to address the high price that it would cost Colstrip to come into compliance with the rule, asking: “What details can you provide on the plans and technology that your agency has that would bring the costs of compliance down from the estimated $350 million to an amount that would be justifiable to invest in a retiring plant?”

Last week, Tester pressed Administrator Regan on concerns regarding the MATS rule during a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing and received a commitment that they would communicate directly to work on additional flexibilities to the rule. 

In January, Tester led a letter to the EPA raising initial concerns regarding the agency’s impending power plant emissions rules and urged the Administration to work with labor and industry on a final rule that would reduce emissions without raising costs for Montanans.

Read Tester’s full letter to EPA Administrator Regan HERE.


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