Jefferson County v. Dep't of Envtl. QualityAnnotate this Case
NorthWestern Energy proposed constructing an electric transmission line from Montana to Idaho and submitted its application for a certificate from the Montana Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ). While preparing a draft of the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), Jefferson County informed DEQ that it expected DEQ to consult with the County in determining the route. Jefferson County subsequently filed a petition for writ of mandamus and injunction relief against DEQ, (1) seeking an order requiring DEQ to comply with the Montana Environmental Policy Act and other environmental legislation, and (2) requesting DEQ be enjoined from releasing a draft EIS. NorthWestern subsequently intervened. The district court ruled in favor of Jefferson County after determining that DEQ had not satisfied its duty to consult with Jefferson County under Mont. Code Ann. 75-1-201(1)(c) and enjoined DEP from releasing the Draft EIS until it had done so. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) at this stage in the process, DEQ had not violated a clear legal duty to consult with the County prior to issuing its draft EIS; and (2) because the County had adequate legal remedies once DEQ rendered a final agency action, the County was not entitled to mandamus or injunctive relief.