As Politico’s “Morning Energy” describes it, the “war on coal” has hit the Big Sky Country.
Montana hosted the latest skirmish in the “war on coal” Monday as Sen. Jim Inhofe joined Senate candidate Rep. Denny Rehberg for a campaign stop at a Billings power plant that is slated to be shut down. Rehberg, who is vying to unseat Democratic Sen. Jon Tester in one of the nation’s tightest Senate races, and Inhofe, a Republican from Oklahoma, both blasted Tester’s opposition earlier this year Inhofe’s proposal to repeal an EPA air pollution rule that will fall heavy on older coal plants. Erica Martinson: http://politico.pro/TF5ppJ
I spoke with Sen. Inhofe and Congressman Denny Rehberg shortly after Inhofe landed in Montana. Audio of his remarks played during Montana’s only statewide radio talk show, Voices of Montana, today. Click here to go to my podcast page and listen to what Inhofe had to say.
The Hill added this:
Inhofe began his tour in Montana, where he touted Rep. Denny Rehberg’s (R-Mont.) coal credentials. Inhofe said the Montana Senate candidate would fight to keep the Corette power plant in Billings, Mont., open, while incumbent Sen. Jon Tester’s (D) support of the administration’s air pollution rules put the plant’s future in jeopardy.
Inhofe sponsored a bill that would have prevented the administration from implementing the air pollution rules. Tester voted against the measure, which failed 46-53 in June.
“Missouri, Montana and Ohio are three of the largest coal states of all the states,” Inhofe said, according to KTVQ in Billings. “In each one of these states, you have a Democrat incumbent senator who has voted to kill coal.”
Tom Lutey covered the visit for The Billings Gazette:
Citing the need for Republican control of environmental issues, Inhofe specifically pointed to his failed attempt earlier this year to block the Environmental Protection Agency from clamping down on mercury pollution and other toxins from coal plants.
Rehberg could have been a deciding vote to block the mercury crackdown, according to Inhofe, who faulted Tester and two other coal state Democrats voting the other way.
“Now is not the time to be costing Montana, or America, jobs,” Rehberg said. “Now is the time to start a comprehensive energy policy, and a big part of that policy is fossil fuels.”
Meanwhile, Katie Brown, the daughter of former State Senator Roy Brown (R-Billings), and current spokesman for Sen. Inhofe, had a guest opinion column in the Gazette saying Tester failed Montana. In a competing column, Democratic legislator Mitch Tropila of Great Falls says the GOP is ignoring a market reality. (Which of course begs the question: if the market is naturally closing the coal-fired power plant, then why do we need the EPA to enact new regulations to protect us from a plant that is naturally closing anyway?)