Description: Challenge to air quality permit for construction and operation of a gas-fired power plant.
Montana Environmental Information Center v. Montana Department of Environmental Quality
Filing Date Type File Action Taken Summary 10/21/2021 Complaint Download Complaint filed. Environmental Groups Challenged Air Permit for New Montana Power Plant and Constitutionality of MEPA Provision. Two environmental groups filed a lawsuit in Montana state court challenging the decision by the Montana Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to issue an air quality permit for construction and operation of the Laurel Generating Station, a 175-megawatt gas-fired power plant on the Yellowstone River in eastern Montana. The plaintiffs alleged that DEQ failed to fully evaluate the environmental consequences of the power plant, including “significant greenhouse gas pollution that contributes to climate change.” The complaint asserted that approval of the plant violated the Montana Environmental Policy Act (MEPA). In a second cause of action, the plaintiffs contended that a 2011 amendment to MEPA violated Montana’s constitutional environmental protections. The amendment provided that environmental review under MEPA could not include “a review of actual or potential impacts beyond Montana’s borders [and] may not include actual or potential impacts that are regional, national, or global in nature.” DEQ interpreted the provision to limit its ability to review climate change impacts. The plaintiffs asked the court to vacate the air permit or, in the alternative, to declare the MEPA provision unconstitutional.