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Montana Governor backs coal and wind power

World Coal,

Montana Governor, Steve Bullock, has said the Obama Administration must spend more money on improving coal-fired power plant technologies, as well as clearing the way for more wind power.

Bullock said clean coal and wind power were vital to addressing climate change.

The US government wants states to cut emissions 30% from 2005 levels, yet its plan counts heavily on reductions from coal power plants, which is likely to adversely affect coal-rich states, such as Montana.

The Democratic governor laid out his case for a Montana-friendly approach to global warming in formal comments submitted to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Bullock said he recognised the urgent need to address climate change, and told the EPA Montana had already seen the adverse affect climate change can bring through wildfires and low streams.

However, Bullock also said there must be more flexibility for states like Montana, if they are to meet Obama’s goals.

Bullock said the development of so-called clean coal technologies had been hampered by high costs.

“If this administration is serious about reducing greenhouse gas emissions, it is time that it becomes equally serious about making investments in cleaner coal technology,” Bullock wrote.

Many supporters of the coal industry have said Obama and the EPA have mounted what is in effect a ‘war on coal’, as they predict power shortages and increased costs of power and electricity, as coal plants are forced to close under the EPA directive.

The answer is blowing in the wind

Bullock has also advocated increasing the use of wind power to keep electrical grids in balance. He suggested that a pending decision on whether sage grouse should be listed as an endangered species could make it more difficult to reach the 2030 emissions goal, by hampering wind development.

Bozeman-based Absaroka Energy is eyeing two sites for its reservoir-based power storage projects, on Gordon Butte near Martinsdale and Coffin Butte near Two Dot.

Excess power produced by a wind farm or other source would be used to pump water uphill to a reservoir, and when the wind stops blowing, the water could be released to turn hydropower turbines to keep electricity flowing.

“If we’re going to replace coal with something, large amounts of wind are too variable,” Absaroka president, Carl Borgquist, said. “But if you had a way to store (the electricity) that’s a way to make wind in Montana reliable.”

The projects need federal approval. An application for the Gordon Butte site is expected to be filed in the spring, Borgquist said.

Edited from various sources by Sam Dodson

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