By Amanda Eggert, Montana Free Press
A Yellowstone County judge has revoked the permit that the state issued for a gas plant NorthWestern Energy is building in Laurel, effectively halting construction of the project.
The ruling Thursday comes almost a year after litigants presented arguments to District Court Judge Michael Moses on the question of the adequacy of the environmental analysis associated with the 175-megawatt plant’s operation.
In their initial October 2021 filing, Montana Environmental Information Center and the Sierra Club argued that the Montana Department of Environmental Quality issued a permit to NorthWestern without fully evaluating the plant’s potential to degrade air quality, contaminate the Yellowstone River and increase the greenhouse gas pollution that’s contributing to climate change. The DEQ and NorthWestern Energy countered that the state completed all of the analysis required by Montana statute and that the permit was issued lawfully.