Clark Fork Coalition v. Montana Department of Natural Resources & ConservationAnnotate this Case
The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the district court reversing a Department of Natural Resources and Conservation (DNRC) contested case decision granting RC Resources, Inc. (RCR) a beneficial water use permit under pertinent provisions of the Montana Water Use Act (MWUA) - Mont. Code Ann. 85-2-301(1), -302(1), and -311 - holding that the district court erred.
The permit at issue would have authorized RCR to annually appropriate 857 acre-feet of groundwater that will flow into the underground adits and works of the proposed Rock Creek Mine. Based on its construction of Mont. Code Ann. 85-2-311(1)(a)(ii)(B), the district court reversed the issuance of the beneficial use permit. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) DNRC correctly concluded that, as used in section 85-2-311(1)(a)(ii), "legal demands" does not include consideration of whether the subject use complies with applicable Montana Water Quality Act nondegradation standards; and (2) section 85-2-311(2) does not violate the right to a clean and healthful environment as applied to the objectors' MWQA nondegradation objections to the proposed MWUA beneficial use permit.