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Bitterrooters for Planning, Inc. v. Mont. Dept. of Envtl. Quality

Bitterrooters for Planning, Inc. v. Mont. Dept. of Envtl. Quality, 2017 MT 222 (Sept. 5, 2017) (Sandefur, J.) (7-0, aff’d & rev’d)

Issue: (1) Whether MEPA requires DEQ to consider non-water-quality-related environmental impacts of the construction and operation of a retail store as secondary impacts of a groundwater discharge permit for an onsite wastewater treatment system; and (2) whether MEPA requires DEQ to identify the actual owner or operator of a wastewater treatment facility prior to issuing a groundwater discharge permit.

Short Answer: (1) No, and (2) yes.

Affirmed and reversed

Facts: In April 2014, DEQ received an application for a Montana groundwater pollution control system permit to discharge wastewater into groundwater on the site of a contemplated commercial development near Hamilton.…

Citizens for a Better Flathead v. Bd. of County Comm’rs

Citizens for a Better Flathead v. Bd. of County Comm’rs, 2016 MT 256 (Oct. 11, 2016) (Baker, J.) (5-0, aff’d)

Issue: (1) Whether the district court erred in striking Citizens’ expert report; (2) whether the district court erred in determining that the Commission substantially complied with the growth policy; (3) whether the district court erred in determining the Commission allowed meaningful public participation; (4) whether the district court erred in determining the Commission adequately incorporated public comments into its decision-making process; and (5) whether the final clause in part 6 of the revised growth policy survives constitutional scrutiny.

Short Answer: (1) No; (2) no; (3) no; (4) no; and (5) yes.

Affirmed

Facts: The Flathead County Commission adopted the original Flathead County Growth Policy in March 2007.…

Carbon County Resource Council v. Mont. Bd. of Oil & Gas Conservation

Carbon County Resource Council v. Mont. Bd. of Oil & Gas Conservation, 2016 MT 240 (Sept. 27, 2016) (Baker, J.; McGrath, C.J., concurring) (5-0, rev’d)

Issue: Whether Plaintiffs’ claims were ripe for judicial review.

Short Answer: Yes.

Reversed. 

Facts: In October 2013, Energy Corporation of America announced plans to develop oil and gas leases in the Beartooth Mountains. Energy Corp. filed an application with the Board for a permit to drill an exploratory oil and gas well in Carbon County, the Hunt Creek 1–H well. Carbon County Resource Council and Northern Plains Resource Council objected to the permit. The Board held a hearing, after which it approved the permit, stating that Energy Corp. did not propose hydraulic fracturing (fracking) at the site.…