Jump to Navigation
Jump to Content

Montana Environmental Information Center v. Montana Department of Environmental Quality

ELR Citation: 50 ELR 20253
Nos. 2020 MT 288, (Mont., 11/17/2020)

The Montana Supreme Court affirmed vacatur of a Montana Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (MPDES) permit issued by the Montana Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) for a copper and silver mine in the Cabinet Mountains. Environmental groups argued, among other things, that MDEQ unlawfully relied upon a 1992 order issued by the Board of Health and Environmental Sciences when it issued the permit. A lower court found that the operational life of the mine referred to in the 1992 order ended when the company that previously owned the mine abandoned the project, and thus vacated the permit. The high court found that MDEQ's use of the expired 1992 order to sidestep the state's enhanced nondegredation policy in issuing the MPDES permit was unlawful and rightly rejected by the lower court. It therefore affirmed vacatur of the permit and remanded to MDEQ for further action.