COLSTRIP, Mont. —
After several years of taking a beating, the coal industry was on the rebound this year as mining projects moved forward in the Western U.S. and demand for the fuel began to rise, especially in Asia.
But almost overnight, coal is back on the defensive, scrambling to stave off President Barack Obama’s renewed push to rein in climate change.
The administration’s proposal would put facilities like Montana’s 2,100-megawatt Colstrip electricity plant in regulators’ cross hairs. That could have spin-off implications for the massive strip mines that dot the surrounding Powder River Basin and provide the bulk of the nation’s coal.
Colstrip burns about 10 million tons of coal a year, serving customers as far away as Washington state, and produces as much carbon dioxide as roughly 3 million cars.