Feds Give Millions to Retrain Out-of-Work Coal Miners in Montana

The state of Montana has received nearly $5 million from the federal government for the retraining of hundreds of coal workers losing their jobs in the shutdown of the coal-fired Colstrip power plant.

Montana Gov. Steve Bullock’s office said $2 million will be immediately available to begin workforce retraining even after President Trump declared this year the “war on coal” was over. But slumping coal markets and pressure to come up with cleaner forms of energy have taken their toll on the industry.

The money is part of an agreement between environmentalists and plant co-owners Talen Energy and Puget Sound Energy of Washington state. It also will arrive months after some state legislators in Montana attempted but failed to require the two owners to compensate Colstrip and surrounding communities for economic losses. Two of the plants four units will close by 2022.

An estimated 1,700 coal workers across 21 counties in eastern Montana are being affected by the closings and could get the new training.