Power Plant Politics

PPL issued a statement yesterday telling folks that they “will permanently shut down the J.E. Corette power plant in Billings” in August. It is powered by low-sulfur coal from the Powder River Basin in Wyoming, and it has been in operation since 1968. There are 30 full-time employees.

Back in 2012, PPL announced that the plant would be placed in a “mothball” status, but now they have discovered the cost to restart the plant would be significant, so closure is the best option.

The 2012 “mothball” announcement was an issue in the 2012 U.S. Senate race between Jon Tester and Denny Rehberg with the Rehberg camp blaming Tester and President Barack Obama for it being mothballed. Read an article about it HERE.

The goal of the Rehberg campaign was to tie Tester to Obama. That strategy failed miserably.

So here we are in 2015 and with the news of the permanent closure, the Montana GOP fired off a press release trying to blame Governor Steve Bullock (a Democrat who is up for re-election in 2016) and Obama for its closure:

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It’s Keystone Tuesday!

Note: This column is not about Keystone beer, but you can drink Keystone beer today if you wish.

Wowser! With the 2014 election just two weeks old, Congress is moving at breakneck speed! Is this great or what? Republicans will probably try to take credit for it, although they don’t actually take over the Senate until January.

Can a bill on immigration be far behind?

OK, that’s a stretch…

The U.S. House voted to approve the Keystone XL pipeline on Friday by a vote of 252-161. Montana’s lone Congressman, Steve Daines, voted for it.

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Keystone XL Pipeline: The Promotional Ads

Happy Monday – If you live in Montana, maybe you’ve noticed that TransCanada is airing several informational ads about the Keystone XL pipeline. That’s the pipeline that may go through eastern Montana.

One of the proposed routes takes the pipeline from Hardisty, Alberta, through Montana to Steele City, Nebraska.

Note: To my readers from Iowa, Alberta is a province of Canada and not a state in the United States.

It seems almost everyone has an opinion about the pipeline. Just yesterday CNN reported, “Hundreds of students and youth organizers were arrested outside the White House Sunday as they protested against the Keystone XL pipeline under review by the Obama administration.”

While I am in favor of the Keystone XL pipeline, maybe someone should protest the performances in these informational videos. In my opinion, they are far from Oscar-worthy.

So I had to see if there were more videos! There are! There are seven videos and they range in length from 1:00 to 2:40.

So today I am a video critic!  In honor of the just-completed Winter Olympics, here are the Gold, Silver, and Bronze medal winners of the seven Keystone XL pipeline promotional videos!

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“Delivering a Bright Future” & Recipes

I am starting off this week by writing about a new subject, NorthWestern Energy. NorthWestern Energy is my electricity supplier. They provide the electricity so that I may use this computer, watch television, etc.

I don’t normally pay too much attention to their monthly bill (except for the amount I owe), but this month I noticed NorthWestern Energy is not only “Delivering a Bright Future” (the company motto), but they are also delivering recipes.

Food recipes. Yes, an electricity company is now sending recipes with their bills. I wonder if our Public Service Commissioners are aware of NorthWestern Energy’s new direction into the world of food…

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Malmstrom and the CTL Plant

It appears there’s more wrangling going on in regards to the Air Force’s idea to have private companies build Coal to Liquid (CTL) plants on Air Force bases. A friend sent me this link from Politico.

Malmstrom AFB is being looked at for a CTL plant, but as I see it the project faces at least two major hurdles:

First, base supporters don’t want the plant to hamper any type of future air operations the base may obtain. I agree with this. The last planes left Malmstrom around 1995. Despite what many in the Air Force say, the runway could be up and running for a few dollars (these are few Federal Government dollars, which means a few million in my terms). The runway is in decent shape and could be reopened by the military. Or, the runway could be used by a private defense or other civilian company if/when the base closes or maybe while the base is open.

Second, another hill to climb according to the Politico article is:

“The Montana Environmental Information Center, based in downtown Helena, is still aiming to derail the project, if it survives in Congress, because of concerns about coal’s notoriously dirty footprint.

“I don’t care who is making the proposal,” said Anne Hedges, the center’s top lobbyist and program director. “The Air Force is not above the law, and there’s no exemption for the Air Force in the Clean Air Act.”

Hedges isn’t making an empty threat. In the past several years, her group has stopped at least four coal plants. Most recently, it blocked the Roundup Power Project, a $910 million, coal-fired power plant proposed by the New York-based Bull Mountain Development Co. by lobbying the state government to revoke the company’s air pollution permit.

I believe time is quickly running out for Malmstrom AFB. With the new Democratic majority in Congress, Malmstrom recently lost one-quarter of their missile mission which means hundreds of base personnel and their families were reassigned. Then on the same slippery slope, 100 new houses that were going to be built were cancelled. These actions must bring a big smile to the anti-military folks around the area. If another BRAC round happens in the near future, I would be very skeptical that Malmstrom could survive.

It does not appear the future for the base is in a Coal to Liquid plant, but only time (and maybe a few lawsuits) will tell.

Energy and Photos

The man who Governor Brian Schweitzer rigged the 2006 election for sent a “prepared, published and mailed at taxpayer expense” postcard to Montanans to let us know his views on the energy problem.

I thought the Montana Democratic Party was against these “prepared, published and mailed at taxpayer expense” mailers? In 2006, they called these mailers “a shameless waste of taxpayer dollars.”

So, it will be good to hear what they have to say about Jon Tester’s “shameless waste of taxpayer dollars.”

My home received two, which was even more
of “a shameless waste of taxpayer dollars.” Of course, his photo was on the postcard four times and it lists his plan of action.

Today in the New York Times, Tester’s photo is displayed with the man who “turned some dials” for his tainted victory, Governor Brian Schweitzer.

Sadly, the Democrats took a 38 day paid vacation and would not allow votes on comprehensive plans to start solving the energy problem.

Ironically, just about the time Barack Obama flip-flopped on off-shore drilling, it appears Jon Tester has followed his leader’s flip-flop according to his website.

I did not see anything about nuclear power. Most of his other stands on the energy issue are pretty vanilla. Here’s his postcard. Enjoy.

The Convention (Day 3)

People were anticipating the speech of former President Bill Clinton on Wednesday night more than Joe Biden’s.

All day on the cable news networks reporters were asking, “What will he say?” “Is he still mad at Obama for not giving his two terms as President some love in his speeches?” “Will he hold back since he wants his wife to become President?” “Is he mad about the race issue?”

Bill Clinton did a fine job in toeing the party line and promoting Barack Obama and Joe Biden. It must have been a tough thing to do when you know your candidate has more experience than the one who won the nomination.

The Wednesday convention started with a “staged” roll call vote from the states for the nomination of President. Montana’s delegation was very long-winded and the Montana Democratic Party Chairmen mixed up which side of our state has mountains and which side has the prairies. He then corrected his mistake.

Then Hillary walked onto the floor and went to New York’s spot and ended it all. Nancy Pelosi had a vote, but cut short the “Nay” votes of people who might have been against the stopping the process. I’m sure some Hillary supporters were not too happy with Nancy’s actions. But this is nothing new for Pelosi, as she hasn’t allowed a vote on drilling in the House, either.

Several Democratic Senators (most with less seniority) than Max Baucus have spoken at the convention, but no Max Baucus (or Jon Tester). Powerful? The Montana media has not taken the time to ask Baucus why he was excluded from the stage.

Joe Biden’s speech was good, but it contained many false statements. Biden has a nice family and his story is impressive. But everyone who watched the speech had to be thinking that Joe Biden does not believe that Barack Obama is ready to be President. He said that during the primary. Biden also said would have been honored to run on the same ticket with John McCain. Man, how times change since Biden started drinking that party kool-aid!

The video about veterans was impressive. The democrats have started cutting into the Republican’s power with the veterans (but not with me), and the Republicans need to improve on their work for veterans. We vote.

So now we head into the finale at Mile High Stadium tonight. Mile High is now being called the “Temple of Obama” or “The Barackopolis” by the McCain campaign since it resembles a Greek Temple. They even gave some examples of what to wear to the event. Funny stuff.

It looks like it will be big. Obama will surely give another great speech – because his strongest asset is giving good speeches.