The Future of Coal
Event DetailsIn 2016, the State of Montana received $54 million in severance taxes related to coal production that year, and the $1 billion Coal Trust Fund contributed $10 million to infrastructure and development budgets in the state. While the coal industry employs roughly 1900 workers in mining, transportation and energy production, employment in that industry has been declining in recent years, and several coal development projects have been postponed or cancelled entirely.
At the same time, the production of natural gas in Montana has increased steadily in the last few years, and employment in that sector has followed, though the rate of growth has slowed each of the last several years. A 2014 study of green energy projected the potential that wind and solar production could create as many as 4000 jobs in the short run and as many as 1300 permanent positions. The economic impact of energy production on Montana is undeniable.
The evolving employment and economic impacts of energy in Montana are not so clear, and the difficulty is compounded further by changes nationally in demand and regulatory climate, to say nothing of what global dynamics - technological shifts, political and social swings, and demand changes, among them - might mean for coal and other energy streams in Montana.