Montana Department of Environmental Quality

Navajo Transitional Energy Company logo.
Navajo Transitional Energy Company / Navajo Transitional Energy Company

Editor's Note 03/31/2020 : This segment has been updated to clarify that NTEC is operating the mine, which Spring Creek Coal LLC, a subsidiary of the now-defunct Cloud Peak Energy, holds the permit to.

The state gave Montana’s most productive coal mine the go-ahead to expand its mining capacity, effectively extending the mine’s life to 2031.

The expansion continues despite the current owner’s debt to the state.

The state of Montana was slated to take control of part of the Libby Asbestos Superfund site from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on April 1. But because of the novel coronavirus pandemic, that transfer is being postponed indefinitely.

Peabody Energy logo.
Peabody Energy / Peabody Energy

Montana will release $3 million to a mining company that started reclaiming around 2,300 acres of land from strip mining in the 90s.

Missouri-based Peabody Energy spent more than 20 years replanting grasses and restoring terrain impacted by operations at the Big Sky Mine area B near Colstrip.

A campsite beside the Smith River on a float trip in April, 2016.
Jeff Jones/Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

DEQ said Tuesday morning after the story had been published that the agency has decided to cancel the in-person meetings for the Smith River Algae Study and will offer the Helena meeting as a live stream on DEQ's YouTube channel, Wednesday from 3-5 pm.

Updates on an ongoing study of algae growth on the iconic Smith River are expected from the Montana Department of Environmental Quality this week. Details on the study will be released at public meetings in Helena and White Sulphur Springs.

Running Water Fountain
Joshme17 / Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

KALISPELL, Mont. — Montana schools must test drinking water for lead content following state rule changes related to school health.

Coal stacks at Colstrip Power plant
Kayla Deroches / Yellowstone Public Radio


A Montana agency on Feb. 11 released a cleanup plan for waste ponds at two of the Colstrip power plant’s four units.

Rachel Cramer / Yellowstone Public Radio

Several years ago, Havre, Montana had a problem. Its treated wastewater had too many nutrients. Fixing it was expected to cost millions of dollars. But, wastewater workers discovered a cheap, upcycled solution through the magic of chemistry and beer.

Four stacks from the Colstrip power plant stick up into a blue sky
Eric Dietrich / Montana Free Press

Montana regulators say they expect to have $400 million in bonds in place by July to cover future cleanup costs at the Colstrip power plant.


But state lawmakers expressed skepticism over that time frame after regulators failed to meet previous deadlines to secure the money.

A glass being filled with water from a faucet.
Tompkins County, NY / Tompkins County, NY

Montana has joined two dozen states and the District of Columbia in requiring all schools to test drinking water for lead.

A statue of a miner
Phil Guest / Flickr CC BY 2.0

Montana officials say a Navajo Nation company may continue operating a coal mine for two more months amid negotiations over the terms of a state permit.