The importance of coal to the nation’s energy portfolio was emphasized late last week as Montana Senator Steve Daines gave a tour of the Rosebud Mine and the Colstrip power plants to U.S. Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette.

You can see how important this operation is,” said Daines. First and foremost to the state of Montana, it’s about the jobs, and it provides an affordable, reliable source of electricity.

Daines pointed out the fact that two of the four power plants at Colstrip have already been decommissioned, and that Units 3 and 4 are the only ones left producing electricity.

“You can see how important this operation is,” said Daines. “First and foremost to the state of Montana, it’s about the jobs, and it provides an affordable, reliable source of electricity.”

Secretary Brouillette told the media attending the briefing how important coal still is to America’s energy picture.

“That national infrastructure, that critical infrastructure must have electricity and it must be reliable,” said Secretary Brouillette. “It must be resilient, it must be affordable, and its facilities like this one that provide that base load power as we move forward. As we look to the future of this country, our job at the US Department of Energy is going to be to continue to develop the technologies that allow this facility to run even more efficiently and more cleanly than it ever has.”

In addition, Secretary Brouillette spoke of the environmental stewardship at the mine due to responsible reclamation.

“If you don't think that's possible, just take a quick look around here,” he said. “This is all reclaimed land. It is pristine. So if you want to see what an environmentalist looks like, come look at the employees at this facility because they are environmentalists. They understand the importance of making this place as clean as possible.”

The owners of Colstrip Units Three and Four hope to close the plants in 2025, which would require energy customers in Montana and the northwest to depend on renewable energy sources such as wind and hydroelectric power.

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