According to Montana's Public Service Commission (PSC), a forthcoming rule change by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) could put Montana in jeopardy.

The new rule would require coal plants to produce carbon emissions no greater than natural gas plants. The Montana PSC sent a letter this week begging the EPA to reconsider.

"We are only sending in the letter to tell them to take another look at this thing because quite frankly they would cause the people in Montana and all of the rate payers a huge amount of increases," said PSC Vice Chair Bob Lake. "In a lot of cases we would probably end up going to blackouts just because we couldn't respond to them."

The new rule was supposed to go into effect on April 13th, but didn't. Lake believes this could be a good sign. He believes the rule could cripple Montana energy production in the near future.

"Our current plants are so . . . well they're getting old. Like Colestrip, they're right at the edge of their useful life. So if the new source of generation had to abide by the rules that were first put into it, quite frankly we would not be able to build any new plants."

Those in favor of the New EPA rule say that it will encourage technological innovation in more environmentally friendly technology. Many believe that a radical move away from coal is necessary to prevent dangerous emissions from changing Earth's climate.

Lake says the new rule would quickly deplete the state's large reserves of natural gas and could, eventually, leave parts of Montana in the dark.

PSC Vice Chair Bob Lake

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