Senate Endorses Relaxed Environmental Law

By Beacon Staff

HELENA – The Legislature continues to move bills that would relax environmental permitting laws.

The state Senate gave initial approval to Senate Bill 387 on a 27-22 vote Friday. It seeks to limit appeals of permits given for energy or development projects.

Supporters say it is needed to put an end to an endless appeals process that can crater projects. They pointed to the failed effort to build a coal-fired power plant near Great Falls.

Opponents say the measure would gut established environmental law, and make it hard for citizens negatively affected by development to voice concern with an appeal.

Republicans are making such proposals a focal point this session, saying environmental constraints and uncertainty over the permitting process is slowing development. They are being joined by labor Democrats and a few others.

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