The Montana Supreme Court heard arguments on Wednesday regarding a District Court judge’s decision that found in favor of environmental groups contesting the awarding of a permit for the Black Butte Copper Project near White Sulphur Springs. Attorneys representing the Montana Department of Environmental Quality, Tintina Montana Inc., the state Attorney General and the counties of Broadwater and Meagher, argued the judge improperly inserted herself into the science of DEQ’s decision, substituting her judgment for the agency’s experts. The environmental groups’ attorney told the high court that was acceptable because DEQ failed to properly test how the mine tailings would be stored. The mine sits near the headwaters of the Smith River, the state’s only river where a permit is required to float during the peak season. The permits are awarded through a lottery system. Keeping the river healthy could be compromised if the mine is built, the environmental groups contend. More detail regarding the arguments can be found in my story at: https://billingsgazette.com/news/state-regional/government-politics/smith-river-tintina-copper-mine-deq/article_d3fbf03e-106f-11ee-a439-1355dd9d13c6.html.
Written by Brett French | Outdoors Editor for Billings Gazette Communications