When Bob Wilson became company president in 1969, Peter Kiewit remained chairman. In 1979, Bob stepped down for health reasons and Walter Scott Jr., who had served as executive vice president since 1965, became president at the relatively young age of 48.
In 1970, Congress passed the Clean Air Act, which led to a need for low-sulfur coal. The nation’s largest supply was in the Powder River Basin of Wyoming and Montana, near Kiewit’s Sheridan office. Kiewit began building the Decker Mine, just north of Sheridan in southeast Montana, in 1971 and shipped its first trainload of coal the following year. Black Butte, a southwest Wyoming coal mine, began production in 1979.
Coal wasn’t the only market booming in the 1970s. Kiewit began construction on the massive James Bay Hydro Project in northern Quebec — and that was only the beginning. Over the years, Kiewit built more than a billion dollars of dam and powerhouse facilities on the La Grande and East Main rivers.
In November 1979, Peter Kiewit died as a result of complications following the removal of a tumor on his left lung. Most of his estate went into the Peter Kiewit Foundation. Having no ties to the company that bears his family’s name, it is one of the largest charitable organizations in the nation.