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By Ethan Howland, Utility Drive

Along the Nez Perce National Historic Trail Yellowstone River in Laurel, Montana.“To most Montanans who clearly understand their fundamental constitutional right to a clean and healthful environment, this is a significant project,” District Court Judge Michael Moses said.

A Montana judge Thursday vacated a state air permit for a $275 million gas-fired power plant being built by NorthWestern Energy, halting construction in a dispute over its significance that would trigger a full environmental review.

The Montana Department of Environmental Quality failed during its environmental review to assess greenhouse gas emissions from the Laurel, Montana, power plant, Michael Moses, a judge at the Montana district court for Yellowstone County, said in the ruling.

The DEQ improperly reasoned that it does not need to consider the plant’s future GHG emissions because Montana law bars reviews of environmental impacts beyond the state’s borders, according to Moses.

“They must take a hard look at the greenhouse gas effects of this project as it relates to impacts within the Montana borders,” Moses said.


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