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By Tom Lutey, Billings Gazette

Republican lawmakers advanced bills to keep climate change out of state permitting decisions as the 2023 Legislature approaches its end.

On the Senate floor, lawmakers easily passed amendments to Senate Bill 557. Republicans said the bill unwinds a 2020 Supreme Court ruling against state environmental regulators and a gold company eyeing a mine 15 miles outside the Gardiner entrance to Yellowstone National Park.

That 2020 ruling also plays a major role in a lower court’s March decision to halt construction of a NorthWestern Energy power plant near Laurel so light pollution and carbon dioxide emissions can be reviewed.

Lawmakers specifically cited NorthWestern’s environmental permitting problems at its Laurel-area gas-fired power plant as cause for stopping state agencies from considering climate change impacts.


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