By Laura Lundquist, Missoula Current
Under a new law, the Montana Department of Environmental Quality no longer considers citizens’ comments on proposed gravel pits and schedules very few hearings to hear comments.
So on Monday, Montanans took advantage of a DEQ rules’ hearing as the only opportunity to air their concerns on proposed amendments related to gravel pit requirements that had been cut by House Bill 599.
On a party-line vote, the 2021 Legislature passed HB599, which eliminated several environmental safeguards and most public input on any new gravel pit. Since then, Montanans around the state have learned how damaging the bill was.
From Libby to the Helena Valley, and Victor to Shepherd northeast of Billings, 20 Montanans showed up or logged on Monday to oppose the rules, testifying about all the negative ways they could be or were being affected by gravel pits that are now allowed by HB599.