HELENA — The Montana Department of Environmental Quality held a listening and comment session in Helena on Wednesday evening, allowing the public to come forward and voice their opinions on the implementation of the Montana Environmental Policy Act.
Dozens showed up for the session in Helena on Wednesday evening, including concerned high school juniors, Hailey Torgerson and Carter Slead.
“I think there's a lot of permanent damage and what needs to happen more is prevention of further damage,” says Slead.
The sessions are meant to open a dialogue between citizens and members of the DEQ about the regulatory framework and whether or how it could be modernized.
These sessions come after the ruling by Judge Kathy Seeley in the Held v. State of Montana case that ruled that the most recent limit enacted on the Montana Environmental Policy Act during the 2023 legislative session was not constitutional.
Chris Dorrington, Director of the Montana Department of Environmental Quality says that these meetings honor MEPA by engaging officials and the public.
“Just with the emphasis on climate and the awareness that the model rules for MEPA haven't been touched since the late 1980s, it's time for us to listen. We know for sure that in Helena we don't have every answer. And so, traveling a bit around the state and listening to the different stakes all in one is really helpful for us,” says Dorrington.
These listening sessions started on September 27 in Billings and continue through November 1 at locations across Montana.
This upcoming Monday, October 23rd, DEQ will also hold a separate meeting to accept public comment on their construction of the Montana Climate Action Plan. The $3 million to construct such a plan was recently given to MT DEQ through the EPA’s Climate Pollution Reduction Grant (CPRG) program.