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Montana Department of Environmental Quality Approves Natural Gas Plant Air Quality Permit

Jonathon Cutler
Natural Gas Flaring in West Texas Oil Field

Environmental regulators say a natural gas plant proposed for construction in south central Montana satisfies the state’s air quality standards.

The Montana Department of Environmental Quality on Monday issued NorthWestern Energy an air quality permit for a natural gas plant the electric utility plans to build in Laurel, just west of Billings.

The 175-megawatt plant will generate power using 18 reciprocating internal combustion engines, a cleaner type of power generation than traditional natural gas engines.

DEQ says it received 700 comments on the draft permit.

The agency determined that the facility’s levels of pollutants like particulate matter, nitrogen dioxide and carbon monoxide will fall below state and federal maximums. DEQ monitors the six most common pollutants, but does not regulate greenhouse emissions like carbon dioxide.

As a power plant, the facility would be required to report its emissions to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.