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Congratulations to our Environmental Clinicians

The ENRLC wishes a hearty congratulations to faculty Pat Parenteau and Jack Tuholske and the student clinicians.  Because of their hard work, their client the Northern Plains Resource Council — a non-profit group of Montana ranchers, hunters, fishermen, and other citizens devoted to protecting the land and water that sustains their way of life from the devastating impacts of coal mining — are one step closer to ensuring the invalidation of a Montana Land Board decision approving a massive land lease in the Powder River Basin in southeastern Montana.

The lease would open up nearly 9,000 acres of land known as the “Otter Creek tracts” to strip mining for an estimated 1.3 billion tons of coal which, if burned, could yield up to 2.4 billion tons of carbon dioxide.  Despite the devastating impacts of coal mining on the land and water, as well  the disturbing climate change implications of these new mining activities, the Land Board approved the lease without any environmental review.

In today’s court decision, the judge held that NPRC and the other plaintiffs had standing to enforce Montana’s constitutional provision guaranteeing its citizens the right to a clean and healthful environment and that they had alleged a cognizable claim that a state law exempting coal mining from environmental review may be unconstitutional under the same provision.  As a result, the plaintiffs will be allowed to move forward with the merits of their case.  The judge’s decision also includes language that appears skeptical of the Land Board’s decision and that frames the issues in a helpful way for the briefing on the merits.

The following is a link to a recent news article on the decision, and the decision itself will be posted on the ENRLC website shortly.

Nice work everyone!

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