By Associated Press - Friday, April 17, 2015

HELENA, Mont. (AP) - State representatives have turned away a bill to impose hefty fines on companies that close coal plants in Montana.

Senate Bill 402 failed to receive support in the House on a 43-57 vote Friday.

As amended, Republican Sen. Duane Ankney’s measure would require a company that shuts down a coal-fired power facility in Montana to pay the state an annual fee for ten years.

Ankney proposed the bill to defend the Colstrip surface mining complex and its workers against Washington state owners who may close it.

Opponents say the bill would have cost the state millions of dollars in litigation costs and sent the wrong message to other businesses in Montana.

Ankney expects that without the measure, Washington companies and environmentalists will soon begin retiring the Colstrip mine.

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