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Clean Water Act Anne Hedges, MSEL'93


Montana Environmental Information Center (MEIC) in Helena, a statewide nonprofit focused on air and water pollution issues and climate matters, hires lawyers to challenge stateimplementation of the CWA and other laws that affect water quality and quantity. Much of Hedges’ climate work involves regulatory and legal action on coal-related issues.

Montana recently issued an expansion permit to the Rosebud coal mine and a discharge permit under the CWA and the state’s implementing program. MEIC has challenged the permits under coal-mining laws. “Streams in the area are legally impaired due to coal mining and fail to meet beneficial uses under the Clean Water Act,” Hedges says.

Hedges is working with Earthjustice to challenge the state’s failure to enforce the CWA and Montana coalash disposal laws at the power plant associated with Rosebud Mine. “The power plant disposes of its waste in 800 acres of wet ash ponds that have been leaking hundreds of gallons per minute of contaminants into groundwater and surface water for decades,” she says. “The overall goal is to use the CWA to force the owners of the power plant and the mine to contain water pollution so when the power plant and mine close, the town is not left with a toxic waste site that undermines economic development opportunities.”


“Coal will continue to be a hot topic. As the nation and world move away from this climate change-inducing form of energy and replace it with cleaner energy, people will increasingly pressure states and coal companies to guarantee that mines and power plants are not sacrifice zones that put toxins into the air as well as groundwater and surface water for generations to come.”