Planning for Montana’s Energy Transition

While Montana is likely to experience relatively small impacts, coal-dependent communities in Eastern Montana are likely to feel the acute effects of job losses and declining tax revenue in the coming decades.

  • The coal industry is undergoing a permanent structural shift for reasons that precede and extend beyond potential federal carbon regulations: cheaper alternatives, existing regulations, changing consumer demands, and declines in export demand.
  • Montana’s economy continues to grow and diversify, adapting to today’s economy. Education, access to markets, and quality of life are driving economic growth. The state today is less dependent on coal mining than at any time since the 1970s.
  • Natural resource sectors, including coal mining and coal-fired electricity generation, remain important in Montana’s rural communities.  Coal-dependent counties in Eastern Montana are likely to feel the acute effects of job losses and declining tax revenue in the coming decades.

featured-image-coal-report-colstrip-power-plantThe three key trends listed above pose a number of questions for Montana concerning coal’s role in its economy, fiscal policy, and local economic development.

This report provides context to help Montanans understand what is driving the energy transition, describes how and where the impacts will be felt, and poses important policy questions as the state considers its options in responding to shifting energy markets, consumer demands, and state and federal regulations.