But Anne Hedges with the Montana Environmental Information Center, one of many groups that have called for even tougher coal plant pollution restrictions than those proposed by the EPA, said it was inaccurate to blame government regulations for the decision on Corette.

"Blaming it on EPA is ignoring all the market forces they are very well aware of," Hedges said. "This is a business decision to the core. They just can't compete in the modern market."

Hedges added that PPL deserved praise for making its announcement so far ahead of time, which Hoffman said was done as a courtesy to the plant's workers.

The plant burns about 700,000 tons of coal annually from an unspecified mine or mines in the Powder River Basin of Montana and Wyoming, the largest coal producing region in the country.

PPL paid $3.4 million annually in property taxes on Corette, a figure Hoffman said should drop significantly once the property is re-assessed after it is closed. More than half of those taxes go to Yellowstone County and the remainder to the state.

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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