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Montana Permitting Information

Environmental permitting is required when a project has the potential of impacting the health and welfare of Montana's environment and citizens. The goal of this process is to mitigate and/or eliminate any potential negative impacts while at the same time providing applicants with a predictable and reasonable set of guidelines for development. The typical permitting process in Montana involves not only the applicant/developer and regulating agency, but also incorporates a public process that allows the involvement of Montana citizens.

The regulating agency is responsible for administering any permitting programs that are enacted in law by the Legislature. Administrative rules adopted by each agency provide the guidelines for implementing and interpreting the laws set by the legislature. The primary agencies involved in permitting energy projects in Montana are the Department of Environmental Quality, Department of Natural Resources and Conservation, Department of Transportation, and the Public Service Commission.

Opportunities for energy development in Montana are vast and include bioenergy, coal, geothermal, hydroelectric, oil and gas, wind, and the infrastructure associated with these projects. Due to the variety of these possibilities, there is no singular manner to describe "energy permitting" in Montana but the following resources provide a starting point for thinking about permitting in Montana. 

Permitting Resources

The Land Use Clinic, University of Montana School of Law

Local Government Regulation of wind Energy Development in Montana, 2012

This report looks at regulatory issues facing rural communities in wind development and offers sample legislation from Montana and around the country.

Environmental Quality Council (EQC), Legislative Environmental Policy Office

Montana Index of Environmental Permits, 2012

This document provides a complete list of the permits and licenses needed to conduct activities that may affect the state's environment. The permit index lists the permits required, the permitting agencies and the statutes and rules that regulate each permit. The same document with sections relevant to energy development highlighted is available here.

Permitting in Montana: Department of Environmental Quality, 2012

This document is designed to assist lawmakers and the public in understanding environmental permitting processes. This brochure is intended as a simple, visual guide to three Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) processes, outlining the responsibilities of the applicant, the regulatory agency, and the public in each. Topics covered include opencut mining, wastewater and air quality permitting.

Permitting in Montana: Department of Natural Resources and Conservation, 2012

This document is designed to assist lawmakers and the public in understanding environmental permitting processes. In 2011, the EQC agreed to develop a simple, visual guide for three Department of Natural Resources and Conservation (DNRC) processes. This brochure outlines the responsibilities of the applicant, the regulatory agency, and the public in each process. Covers oil & gas drilling, open basin ground water, and closed basing ground water.

Eminent Domain in Montana, 2012

This handbook was originally developed in 2001 by the EQC to help Montana's citizens better understand our eminent domain laws after the 1999 Legislature determined the "use of the power of eminent domain is not well understood". It describes the eminent domain laws in a format that is user-friendly and that answers the most frequently asked questions.

Public Uses and Eminent Domain: A review of Montana's eminent domain laws, public uses, and the entities with condemnation authority, 2012

This document reviews current eminent domain laws, recent eminent domain laws, and how other states have dealt with this issue.

A Guide to Montana Water Quality Regulation, 2012

A primer for the citizen, this manual addresses commonly asked policy questions regarding water quality. Explanations attempt to relay principles in understandable terms. In the simplification process, some technical nuances may be lost. For the legally curious, it is recommended to directly reference the cited laws and state regulations.

A Guide to the Montana Environmental Policy Act, 2009

As the title indicates, this manual provides information on Montana's Environmental Policy Act (MEPA) including the history, purpose, and process of the legislation along with a comparsion of MEPA and other environmental regulations. Note that the language of MEPA has been changed since the publication of this document.

A Guide to Split Estates in Oil and Gas Development, 2007

This brief guide provides a general overview of how split estates are dealt with in oil and gas development. 

Montana Energy and Telecommunications Interim Committee (ETIC)

A Citizen's Guide to Montana Energy Law, 2011

The purpose of this guide is to explain in a straightforward, easy-to-understand manner how electricity law works in Montana and, more important, how those laws impact Montana's consumers. The goal of this guide is to encourage thoughtful, effective involvement in Montana's electricity law development and implementation.

Montana Department of Environmental Quality

Permitting Info Directory

This website provides links to all of the environmental permitting agencies within the Department of Environmental Quality.