Event Details


In 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.

Location Details
Northern Hotel
19 North Broadway Billings, MT 59101
Billings, MT 59101
406 867-6767


Friday, April 06

8:30am - 8:45amOpening and WelcomeGrand Ballroom, Northern Hotel, Billings Montana
8:45am - 10:15amPanel 1 - How did we get here? Grand Ballroom, Northern Hotel, Billings MontanaRobert Godby - Director for Energy, Economic and Public Policy Center, University of Wyoming
James Allison III - Assistant Professor of History, Christopher Newport University
Shawn Hazboun - Faculty, Environmental and Rural Sociology, Evergreen State
Robert Lifset - Associate Professor, History, University of Oklahoma
An examination of the historical, economic and social background of coal and its use in Montana and the West
10:45am - 11:45amKeynoteGrand Ballroom, Northern Hotel, Billings Montana
Former Governor of New Mexico, Bill Richardson

The Future of Energy in the West: Is Coal A Part of It?
12:00pm - 1:30pmLunch Plenary Speaker - Robert LifsetGrand Ballroom, Northern Hotel, Billings Montana

1:30pm - 3:00pmPanel 2 - Broadening the ConversationGrand Ballroom, Northern Hotel, Billings Montana
Brett Bowen – IBEW (International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers)
Kenneth Brien – Chief Director of Energy for the Crow Nation 
Jace Killsback – President Northern Cheyenne Tribal Nation  
Ellen Pfister – Rancher & member of Northern Plains Research Council. Bull Mountains, MT
Todd O’Hair –Senior Manager of Government Affairs, Cloud Peak Energy

An exploration of the more complex concerns about the future of coal beyond the jobs vs environmental debate
3:15pm - 4:45pmPanel 3 - Navigating the FutureGrand Ballroom, Northern Hotel, Billings MTMark Haggerty - Headwaters Economics
Tom Schneider - Engineer and Energy Consultant, former Montana Public Service Commissioner
Rep. Daniel Zolnikov - Chairman of the House Technology Committee. (R) House District 47 MT
Wendy Hutchinson - VP of Public and Governmental Affairs, Millennium Bulk Terminals
Karen Baumgart - Director of Workforce Development, Big Sky Economic Development Authority

An examination of how Montana, its communities and its citizens might respond to current and future changes.

4:45pm - 5:00pmConcluding RemarksGrand Ballroom, Northern Hotel, Billings Montana