Montana gov's bid to balance Obama climate plan with jobs to face scrutiny in coal country

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BILLINGS, Montana — Gov. Steve Bullock's assertion that Montana can meet the Obama administration's climate goals without shutting down power plants will get its first public test in the heart of coal country.

State officials plan a Tuesday public meeting in Colstrip on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency proposal to cut greenhouse emissions.

The town is home to one of the largest coal-fired power plants in the West — a 2,100-megawatt facility that churns out more greenhouse gases than any other source in Montana.

But it's also a regional economic driver with 360 workers. Hundreds more are employed at the nearby Rosebud mine.

Bullock says the state can keep such plants open. Emissions instead would be reduced by using more renewable energy, promoting efficiency and developing technologies to capture carbon dioxide from burning coal.

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