1.22.13: Our case in federal district court was dismissed on the procedural grounds that the case was not properly brought in federal court. We are challenging the Montana Department of Environmental Quality’s regulation pursuant to the federal Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act (“SMCRA”), and we have filed an appeal in the Ninth Circuit challenging the District Court decision that jurisdiction was not proper.

Rosebud Mine Challenge (MT)

With their way of life threatened by a poorly planned expansion of the Rosebud coal mine near Billings, Montana, ranchers, sportsmen and conservationists sought the help of WELC to demand that state regulators follow the law intended to prevent such conflicts. 

The issue is bigger than just this one coal mine - Montana’s Department of Environmental Quality has repeatedly issued coal-mining permits without properly considering the effects on water quality and quantity, as is required by law.

After over a year of efforts to engage DEQ on these issues, WELC recently filed suit to ensure compliance with the law protecting the quality and quantity of ground and surface waters in Montana. Specifically, the lawsuit focuses on DEQ’s failure to consider the impacts of the Rosebud mine, which feeds the Colstrip power plant.

“Water is my life. Without it, I don’t run cattle, I don’t ranch, I don’t have a business,” said Doug McRae, who operates a cattle ranch near Colstrip, MT. “And so far, the state regulators who are supposed to be protecting our waterways seem to be asleep at the switch.”  McRae said the case is not only important for him, but for all ranchers who operate near coal mines anywhere in Montana.

(WELC project # 687)