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Unanimous MT State Supreme Court Decision Voids 900 Coalbed Methane Permits - Cos Must Clean Water

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hatrack Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-21-10 12:18 PM
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Unanimous MT State Supreme Court Decision Voids 900 Coalbed Methane Permits - Cos Must Clean Water
HELENA A unanimous Montana Supreme Court has voided water-discharge permits for the states largest coalbed methane producer, saying the state must require the company to treat salty water from the wells before it flows into the Tongue River or other streams and rivers.

The high court, in a ruling Tuesday, said Fidelity Exploration & Production Co. can continue operating its southeast Montana gas fields under its existing permits, but gave the state 90 days to re-evaluate the permits under the appropriate pre-discharge treatment standards.

Officials for the state and the company said Thursday that theyre talking to legal staff and determining how best to comply with the decision. Obviously well have to abide by the courts decision, said Richard Opper, director of the state Department of Environmental Quality. We need to do that as efficiently as possible.

Its one of those things that were currently evaluating the justices decision, and well work with DEQ, said Joe Icenogle, director of environmental affairs for Fidelity. The high court sided with two groups representing water users and the Northern Cheyenne Indian Tribe, which argued that the DEQ had violated the federal Clean Water Act by failing to require Fidelity to treat all of the salty water pumped from the wells before discharging it into the Tongue River Basin.

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