Montana Supreme Court rules to keep tainted natural gas production water out of streams and rivers

Earlier this week, the Montana Supreme Court ruled that natural gas producers have to treat water extracted from coalbed formations during natural gas production if they want to dispose of it in the state's streams or rivers. The court also found that the Montana Department of Environmental Quality violated the federal Clean Water Act and the Montana Water Quality Act by issuing permits without requiring that the water be treated. Water produced from coalbed methane is highly saline and may affect aquatic life. It has been known to destroy agricultural land owned by private citizens, and  to kill vegetation. This ruling is the result of action taken by a coalition of the the Northern Cheyenne Tribe, the Northern Plains Resource Council (NPRC), and the Tongue River Water Users’ Association. More information is available on the NPRC website.

In the Powder River Basin of Montana, one well produces over 17,000 gallons of water per day. Up to 39,000 new wells are expected there in the future. That is a lot of contaminated water that will now be kept out of the environment. Congratulations to everyone involved in this fight.