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Environment | Law
Northern Cheyenne Tribe wins ruling in methane drilling suit


The Northern Cheyenne Tribe of Montana won a decision in a coalbed methane drilling lawsuit.

The tribe sued the Montana Department of Environmental Quality over water discharge permits that were issued to Fidelity Exploration & Production Co., the largest coalbed methane producer in the state. The tribe said the drilling would lead to pollution in the Tongue River Basin.

In a unanimous decision, the Montana Supreme Court agreed. The court said the state violated the federal Clean Water Act by failing to require Fidelity to treat the water from drilling activities.

The court said Fidelity can continue to drill in the basin for 90 days while the state reconsiders the permits.

Get the Story:
Montana Supreme Court voids state permits for 900 coalbed gas wells; orders re-evaluation (The Billings Gazette 5/21)
Court revokes coal-bed methane company's permits (AP 5/21)

Montana Supreme Court Decision:
Northern Cheyenne Tribe v. DEQ (May 20, 2010)