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Lewis and Clark Power Plant, Sidney, Montana

The Lewis and Clark Power Plant, located in Sidney, Montana, is a coal-burning power plant that is also equipped to use natural gas. It is owned and operated by the Montana-Dakota Utilities Company. First constructed in 1958, the plant is capable of generating 48,000 kilowatts of electricity.

The Lewis and Clark Power Station is powered by lignite, also known as brown coal. This type of coal is easily converted into gas, which plants can then burn to heat water until it becomes steam to power turbines. Unfortunately, lignite produces more emissions of some pollutants than other types of coal.

Coal-Burning Plants and the Environment

Coal is one of the “dirtiest” sources of energy, based on the amount of emissions that are released when it is burned. Pollutants associated with the burning of coal include:

  • Mercury, a heavy metal that can cause health problems in people over long periods of time
  • Ash, a solid waste that can be toxic to humans in large amounts
  • Carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas that contributes to global climate change
  • Nitrous oxide, another greenhouse gas
  • Sulfur dioxide, which contributes to acid rain

When these emissions are released in large amounts, they can have serious, long-term health effects for people as well as negative consequences for the environment. Fortunately, most power plants utilize modern technology to reduce their environmental impact. For example, the Lewis and Clark Power Plant is equipped with technology that reduces its sulfur dioxide and mercury emissions.

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