The U.S. government has awarded $4.6 million in aid to the state of Montana to retrain hundreds of coal workers, many of whom will soon be out of jobs because of a partial closure of the coal-fired Colstrip power plant, the second biggest in the West. Despite efforts by President Donald Trump to roll back Obama-era coal regulations, the industry and its workers remain in upheaval because of slumping coal markets and mounting pressure to develop cleaner forms of energy. Montana Gov. Steve Bullock’s office said $2 million of the money for retraining will be immediately available to begin workforce retraining. The money will be disbursed to training facilities at community colleges, tribal colleges, labor unions and other community groups to assist around 1,700 coal industry workers across 21 counties in eastern Montana. The funding is due in part to a collaboration launched a year ago between unions and the environmental community. Part of the money also will go toward building a workforce for reclamation projects, including cleaning up ash ponds near the Colstrip power plant and reclaiming coal mines.
- World abandoning coal-fired electricity
- “It’s purely economic. The plant guys tried everything they could to keep it open, but it was a money loser. In a competitive market, you’ve got to take these steps. This is a coal plant operating in a market that’s flooded with cheap natural gas.”
- Economics, not regs., are waging a war on coal
- Xcel Energy to retire coal-fired plants, increase renewables
- Coal-fired power plant jobs continue to fade
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