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Oregon's Boardman Coal Plant is set to close next year

We got a look inside Boardman Coal Plant. It's the biggest single-point pollution source in the state. But it also provides low-cost power and high-income jobs.

Pat Dooris

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The Boardman Coal Plant was built in the late 1970s for Portland General Electric. It was a time when Oregon’s population was growing and the OPEC oil embargo of the early 1970s was still fresh. The country wanted more energy choices, and a coal plant seemed like a good choice at the time.

Times have changed. A combination of lawsuits, political pressure and cheaper alternative power have doomed the plant long before its mechanical life is over. 

Portland General Electric has agreed to shut the plant down in 2020. Because it's the biggest single-point source of pollution in Oregon, environmental advocates like the Sierra Club's Cesia Kearns say it a big win that sets an example for the nationwide fight against climate change.

But it’s heartbreaking for the workers who've spent years at the plant, making a good wage and lifelong friendships.