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Major Facility Siting Program

Current Projects

Colstrip Steam Electric Station

DEQ is engaged in an enforcement action against PPL over groundwater contamination caused by leaking ash ponds at their Colstrip Steam Electric Station.  The steps both DEQ and PPL must take to address these problems are outlined in the Administrative Order on Consent, which both parties agreed to in 2012.  


Application to Amend Certificate of Compliance (Units 3 and 4 Consumption of Rosebud Mine Coal from areas A, B, F and G)

Decision on Amendment


Keystone XL Pipeline
On December 22, 2008 DEQ received an application for the Keystone-XL Pipeline, a 36-inch oil pipeline in eastern Montana.  On April 15, 2011, the U.S. Department of State issued a Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement (SDEIS).  On September 2, 2011 the DOS released the Final EIS.  Montana DEQ is a cooperating agency on the Final EIS.  On March 30, 2012 DEQ issued a certificate of Compliance for the project. It may be viewed at the Keystone Certificate page. 

Mountain States Transmission Intertie (MSTI)

UPDATE: In a letter dated February 4, 2014, NorthWestern Energy formally requested the MSTI MFSA application for a Certificate of Compliance under Section 75-20-101, et. seq., MCA, be withdrawn. DEQ acknowledges that NorthWestern Energy has withdrawn its application for the MSTI transmission line. 

On July 8, 2008, DEQ posted the first part of the application for the Mountain States Transmission Intertie (MSTI), a proposed 500-kV line from south of Townsend to Southern Idaho. DEQ partnered with the US Bureau of Land Management to prepare an environmental impact statement (EIS) for the project. Release of the draft EIS was delayed while the courts resolved a lawsuit regarding consultation between the State and local governments, and to allow completion of work for federal requirements related to greater sage grouse and cultural resources. In October 2012, DEQ received a letter from NorthWestern Energy indicating the company would postpone the MSTI project. Upon receipt of this letter, DEQ  suspended its environmental review of the MSTI project.


Transmission Lines

Montanore Transmission Line

Approved Projects

Keystone XL Pipeline - On March 30, 2012 DEQ issued a certificate of Compliance for the project. The certificate can be found at the Keystone Certificate page. 

Montana Alberta Tie 230 kV Transmission Line - Construction completed February 2013.

Bonneville Power Administration - Libby/Troy Rebuild - Has been completed. 

Western Area Power Administration - Havre/Rainbow Rebuild Final Conclusions and Determination of Substantive Compliance with Montana Major Facility Siting Act - Under construction.

Regulated Activities

A certificate of compliance may be required from the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) for certain major pipelines and electric transmission lines.  Exploration for geothermal resources is also regulated. Associated facilities such as transportation links, pump stations and other facilities associated with the delivery of energy are included. Federally owned or controlled facilities must satisfy the substantive criteria of the Major Facility Siting Act (MFSA).  There are special procedures that apply for facilities subject to the jurisdiction of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.  A person who proposes to construct an energy-related project that is not defined as a facility under MFSA may petition DEQ to review the project under MFSA.

The legislature found that the construction of additional lines, pipelines, and geothermal facilities may be necessary to meet the increasing need for electricity, energy, and other products; that it is necessary to ensure that the location, construction, and operation of covered facilities are in compliance with state law; and that a covered facility may not be constructed or operated within Montana without a certificate of compliance acquired pursuant to MFSA.  The legislature also found the purposes of MFSA are to:  ensure the protection of the state's environmental resources; ensure the consideration of socioeconomic impacts; provide citizens with an opportunity to participate in facility siting decisions; and establish a coordinated and efficient method for the processing of all authorizations required for regulated facilities.

Timelines for review are indicated in figure 1.

In general, electrical transmission lines greater than 69 kV may be covered under MFSA if they meet certain criteria. Electrical transmission lines of 230 kV or more and 10 miles or more in length are covered under MFSA unless certain criteria are met. Pipelines greater than 25 inches in inside diameter that are at least 50 miles long may be covered under MFSA if they meet certain criteria. Nuclear energy conversion facilities also are regulated under MFSA.

Application Requirements

An applicant for a certificate under the Montana Major Facility Siting Act (MFSA) must file an application with the DEQ.  Facilities covered by MFSA are listed in 75-20-104(8), MCA.  Information concerning the need for the transmission line or pipeline, the proposed location, baseline data and reasonable alternate locations must be included in the application.  See 75-20-211, MCA, ARM Title 17 - Chapter 20 ,Circular 1 and Circular 2 for details.

Statute: Montana Major Facility Siting Act, 75-20-101 et seq., MCA