Bullock Flips on Coal

Getty Images
June 17, 2019

Montana governor and 2020 presidential candidate Steve Bullock (D.) flipped on his support for coal last week during an interview with the The San Francisco Chronicle.

Bullock sat down for the It's All Political podcast, where he was asked about his "all of the above" stance on energy and how coal fit in his plan.

"And you're sort of all of the above in terms of energy, you're OK with coal, or where are you with coal?" the interviewer asked.

"Yeah, but, I mean coal is no longer even profitable and we're seeing coal plant closure after coal plant closure," Bullock responded.

He went on to cite the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's recommendation that countries transition away from coal.

"The IPCC says, you know, that it's impractical to go in the immediate term, which is to say, 'Let's shut all these coal plants down.' So what I think we need to do in the interim is recognize, as we wean off of coal, we have to be taking steps to also mitigate the impacts of greenhouse gas when it comes to coal."

Bullock had been a longtime advocate for coal. As recently as 2017, Bullock said that "coal is part of our energy future."

"I don't think we can say we're either going to address our climate or continue to create energy from fossil fuels. That's a false choice," Bullock said. "What we need to do is be recognizing there's been more technological changes in my phone even in the last five years and by and large how we've been producing energy from carbon-based fields, in particular coal."

Bullock also championed coal during a governor debate in 2016.

"Coal is an important part of Montana, it has been, and we need to make sure, not only for the communities, but for the workers and the community, that it continues to be a part of it." he said. "More coal was actually mined in the first three years of my administration than on average the past 30 on average, each time."

There were 1,146 people employed in coal mining two years ago. In addition, Montanans receive 49 percent of their electricity from coal.