We work to promote coal mine reclamation, protect and restore water and our working rural landscapes, and build a more diversified economy so that, when the coal industry is gone, our communities won’t be.

Doing It Right – Colstrip Cleanup Jobs

Because coal ash pond closure and associated groundwater remediation is only now becoming a priority for power plants, there are many unanswered questions about the size and nature of the workforce needed to do it right.  Doing It Right, is a Colstrip jobs study that aims to shed light on some of the cleanup work being done now around the country and what that might mean for the Colstrip, MT workforce and community.

Click here to read Doing It Right: Colstrip’s Bright Future with Cleanup, or read the Fact Sheet.

Published in April 2019, Doing it Right II builds on the previous study conducted in 2018This new study incorporates new data to highlight the specific environmental and economic benefits of coal ash cleanup at the Colstrip power plant in southeastern Montana. The overall takeaway from both reports is that robust cleanup creates hundreds of good-paying jobs, permanently repairs local groundwater, and  stimulates broad economic prosperity for the local community.

Click here to read Doing It Right II: Job Creation through Colstrip Cleanup, or read the Fact Sheets:

Doing it Right II: Job creation through Colstrip cleanup (2019)

Doing It Right: Protecting Jobs, Groundwater, and Property Values (2020)

Profiles: In the Shadow of Coal

A few years ago, Northern Plains created a series of short videos to profile some of our members affected by coal development. Watch all of their stories here.



Only a small fraction of mined lands in Montana has been fully reclaimed. By working for more complete reclamation, we can create abundant jobs and help ensure that working farm and ranch lands and traditions can be passed on to future generations.

Water Quality

In southeastern Montana, coal seams are aquifers. Coal mining rips up those aquifers, and mine-related discharges can pollute rivers and creeks that farms and ranches rely on. Northern Plains works for stringent water quality standards in southeastern Montana to protect irrigators from water pollution.

Montana DEQ water quality data from Colstrip 3&4 ponds (April 2020)

Coal Exports

Proposed Pacific Northwest coal ports, designed to ship Montana and Wyoming coal to Asia, would lead to a dramatic increase in coal train traffic through Montana communities. This traffic would mean more air pollution and health impacts from diesel exhaust and coal dust, more derailment risks, and more congestion at Montana’s many railroad crossings. While most of these speculative projects have fallen through, Northern Plains continues working to give a voice to our rail-line communities. If companies get the profits and Asia gets the energy, Montanans shouldn’t be paying the costs.

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