The Montana Coal Board, which is a seven-member board, was created in 1975, along with Montana’s Coal Severance Tax, through the passage of Senate Bill 87. The Coal Board follows Title 90, Chapter 6, Part 2 of the Montana Code Annotated to carry out its responsibilities. The Coal Board is attached to the Montana Department of Commerce for administrative purposes.

As stated in 90-6-201, MCA, the Board’s purpose is to assist local governmental units that have been required to expand the provision of public services as a consequence of large-scale development of coal mines and coal-using energy complexes or as a consequence of a major decline in coal mining or in the operation of coal-using energy complexes, to assist in the construction and reconstruction of designated portions of highways that serve the area affected by the large-scale development, to support county land planning, and to support public schools throughout the state.

The Board meets at least once each quarter, typically during the second week of the third month of each quarter. Additional meetings may be called by the presiding officer or majority of the members 90-6-204, MCA.

The Board considers applications and awards Coal Board Impact grants to counties, communities, school districts, tribal governments, or other governmental units to assist them in adequately providing governmental services or facilities that are needed as a direct consequence of an increase or decrease in coal development or in the consumption of coal by an coal-using energy complex. The Board is also responsible to award grants to local government for the purpose of paying part or all of the credit that the local governmental unit is obligated to give a major new industrial facility that has prepaid property taxes. The Coal Impact Area Report, updated in July 2023, can be found here, along with a list and map.

The Montana Department of Commerce is required by statute 90-6-207, MCA to biennially designate each county, incorporated city and town, school district or other governmental unit impacted by coal development. This designation guides the use of funds and directs the Montana Coal Board to award at least 50% of appropriated funds to designated local government units, except as it pertains to 90-6-205(4)(b), MCA. The 2021 Biennial Coal Impacted Local Governmental Units Designation Report has been provided to the Montana Coal Board for the purpose of awarding grants from available funds during the biennium.