The Montana Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and Talen Energy have finalized the Colstrip Units 1&2 coal ash ponds settlement agreement. The agreement holds that excavation is the law of the land, and Talen must excavate the coal ash and place it into a new, lined landfill located above the water table. However, in the two years that Talen is given to draft their plan, they can also propose an alternative remedy (aka, a weaker one). The burden from there is on the DEQ to prove why they do or don’t accept that alternative.
Decades since they first raised concerns about the leaking ash ponds, ranchers, landowners, workers, and the Colstrip community remain in limbo, uncertain if they’ll have clean water and good cleanup jobs at the end of this process.
While we have won excavation for now, we are gearing up to protect a robust cleanup plan once and for all in 2023.