May 2, 2023
Judge cancels Montana gas plant’s permit over climate concerns
In a landmark decision, a Montana judge has cancelled the permit for a proposed gas plant in the state, citing concerns over its potential impact on the climate.
The ruling, which was handed down by District Judge Kathy Seeley, marks a significant victory for environmental groups who have been fighting against the project for years.
The proposed gas plant, which was to be built by the Canadian company, TC Energy, would have produced up to 300 million cubic feet of natural gas per day, and would have been one of the largest facilities of its kind in the country.
However, Judge Seeley ruled that the Montana Department of Environmental Quality had failed to adequately consider the potential impact of the plant on the climate, and had not taken into account the latest scientific research on the subject.
In her ruling, Judge Seeley wrote that the Department's analysis of the project's greenhouse gas emissions was inadequate and failed to comply with Montana law.
She went on to say that the Department's decision to issue the permit was arbitrary and capricious, and must be set aside.
The decision is a major setback for TC Energy, which had hoped to begin construction on the plant later this year. The company has not yet announced whether it plans to appeal the ruling.
Environmental groups, however, have hailed the decision as a major victory in the fight against climate change.
This decision sends a clear message that we cannot continue to build new fossil fuel infrastructure if we are serious about addressing the climate crisis, said Anne Hedges, deputy director of the Montana Environmental Information Center.
The ruling comes as the Biden administration is pushing for a transition away from fossil fuels and towards renewable energy sources. President Biden has pledged to cut greenhouse gas emissions in the US by at least 50% by 2030, and to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.
The cancellation of the Montana gas plant permit is likely to be seen as a sign that the tide is turning against fossil fuel projects, and that the era of unchecked expansion of the industry may be coming to an end.