In a tough economy, Montana considers weakening its environmental laws to smooth the way for business

On Feburary 2, 2011 the Montana state legislature considered two pro-development reforms to the Montana Environmental Policy Act (MEPA) that would limit court review of agency decisions and non-state issues, angering environmentalists.


The extractive, construction, and labor groups supported the change as a job-creator in a tough economy and promised it would lead to greater investment in the region. Environmentalists opposed the changes because the new procedure would create an uphill battle for private landowners challenging new building on their property.  The Montana Environmental Information Center claims the proposal would decrease democratic public participation in development projects.


In a suffering economy, do environmentalists stand a chance against development and business interests?  Politicians are hungry for bills marketed as job creation, and Montana’s Governor said the state’s environmental laws offer sufficient protection while attracting coal and gas companies to do business in the state.  If the economy fails to improve soon, it is possible other state legislatures will propose similar industry-enticing reforms.


For more on the Associated Press’s coverage of the Montana proposal, visit


Written by: Amanda Blunt, GIELR Staff