The Colstrip plant is fed by a nearby open-pit mine, and together this so-called “mine-to-mouth” operation employs around 650 people at its peak – the very jobs that Trump promised to save during his 2016 campaign. A month before Election Day that year, Energy Department Secretary Dan Brouillette came into town and noticed that facilities like Colstrip were being shut down too quickly, which they called “a very important facility to us”. That was encouraging to hear in a city where coal power is the only economic engine and accounts for up to 80% of tax revenue.

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