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By Blair Miller, Fairfield Sun Times

The Montana Legislature introduced a new bill Friday that would exempt the Department of Environmental Quality from adhering to air quality and emissions standards when authorizing or changing permits, effectively banning regulation of greenhouse gasses, which the House Speaker said was being done because of a ruling last week regarding NorthWestern Energy’s Laurel Generation Station plant under construction in Yellowstone County.

Judge Michael G. Moses ruled last week that the DEQ did not perform an environmental impact analysis and disregarded concerns over air quality and carbon dioxide production when it issued permits for the gas-fired power plant in Laurel.

House Republicans and Democrats gaveled in the floor session Friday afternoon and immediately met with their respective caucuses, which is where House Speaker Matt Regier, R-Kalispell, told Republicans about their move to suspend the rules and introduce the new bill.

“There was a ruling there on the energy plant in Laurel, and it addressed climate change, which is new. It’s something that could have far-reaching ramifications for the entire state of Montana. For projects going forward, it’s a big question mark,” he told the caucus.


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