For years, Northern Plains Resource Council has been studying the relationship between coal ash cleanup and job creation. In 2018, we published a case-study analysis (Doing it Right: Colstrip’s bright future with cleanup) evaluating the way coal-fired power plants across the country have been addressing coal ash cleanup. This analysis shed light on the brighter side of coal transition and became the foundation for our latest report, Doing it Right II: Job creation through Colstrip cleanup.
Doing it Right II 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.
From the introduction:
“The plant’s leaking coal ash ponds have posed serious threats to water quality and ranch operations for decades. Local ranchers, the Northern Cheyenne nation, and Rosebud County homeowners continue waiting for the ponds to stop leaking and the groundwater contamination to be cleaned up permanently. Simultaneously, hundreds of workers are facing potential lay-offs with the pending retirements of power plant Units 1 and 2 and the uncertain future of Units 3 and 4.
There is a simple solution to these problems. A cleanup plan that ensures coal ash is stored in a dry location high above the aquifer is the best outcome for both the Colstrip community and the environment. A project that involves excavating coal ash, dewatering it, and permanently repairing the groundwater will create hundreds of jobs–jobs that should be first offered to the local workforce.
Doing it Right would create twice as many jobs as Talen’s proposal.”