75-2-213. Energy development project -- hearing and procedures. (1) (a) When the department approves or denies the application for a permit under 75-2-211 for an energy development project, the applicant or a person who has provided the department with formal comments and who is directly and adversely affected by the department's decision may request a hearing before the board. If the department provided an opportunity for public comment on the application, the request for a hearing must be limited to those issues raised in comments made to the department during the comment period unless the issues are related to a material change in federal or state law made during the comment period, to a judicial decision issued after the comment period, or to a material change to the draft permit, which was submitted for public comment, made by the department in the final permit decision and upon which the public did not have a meaningful opportunity to comment. The request for hearing must be filed within 30 days after the department renders its decision. An affidavit setting forth the grounds for the request must be filed with the request for a hearing.
(b) (i) If a hearing is requested by a person other than the applicant for or permittee of an energy development project, the applicant or permittee may, by filing a written election with the board within 15 days of receipt of the request for hearing, elect to have the matter proceed to hearing before the board or to have the matter submitted directly to the district court for judicial review of the agency decision. The party who requests the hearing may elect to have the matter submitted either to the board for a hearing or to the district court for judicial review by submitting a written election to the board with the request for hearing. If there are conflicting elections between the parties, the matter must proceed to district court.
(ii) If the applicant or permittee is not the person who requested the hearing and has elected to have the matter submitted to the district court, the person who submitted the request for a hearing shall file a petition for review of the permit decision within 15 days of receipt of notice from the permittee. If the person who requested the hearing has elected to have the matter proceed to district court, that person shall file a petition in district court within 15 days of filing the request.
(iii) The petition must be limited to matters raised in the request for hearing and must be filed in the county in which the facility is located.
(iv) If a party does not elect to submit the matter directly to district court, the matter must proceed through the contested case process before the board pursuant to the Montana Administrative Procedure Act.
(v) The board or the district court shall apply the laws and rules in place when the department issued its decision, and the board or the district court may not consider any issue that was not presented to the department for the department's consideration during the formal comment period unless the issue is related to a material change in federal or state law made during the comment period, to a judicial decision issued after the comment period, or to a material change to the draft permit, which was submitted for public comment, made by the department in the final permit decision and upon which the public did not have a meaningful opportunity to comment.
(c) (i) Except as provided in subsection (1)(c)(ii), if the person requesting the hearing is not the applicant or permittee of an energy development project, the board or the district court shall require a written undertaking to be given by the party requesting the hearing for the payment of costs and damages incurred by the permit applicant and its employees if the request for a hearing or judicial review was for an improper purpose designed to harass, cause unnecessary delay, or improperly interfere with the issuance of the permit without a reasonable basis in law or fact.
(ii) The board or the district court may not require a written undertaking if the party requesting the hearing is an indigent person.
(d) If grounds for requesting the hearing are based on alleged error in applying best available control technology requirements, the board or the district court shall give deference to the best available control technology determination made by the department. The board or the district court may not reject the best available control technology determination unless the determination was incorrect as a matter of law or the factual basis for the determination was clearly erroneous.
(2) The board shall issue a final decision within 4 months from the close of the hearing on the merits or, if no hearing is held, within 3 months from the date that briefing by the parties is complete unless the applicant or permittee and the party other than the applicant or permittee agree in writing to an extension of time. The board shall require the parties to prepare the case for hearing without unreasonable delay.
(3) (a) Any requirement in a permit to commence construction, installation, or alteration within a certain time period is tolled during a contested case or judicial review proceeding, but not by more than 12 months, unless the applicant or permittee in its discretion waives the tolling in writing.
(b) If there are multiple appeals of one permit, tolling under this subsection (3) may not exceed a total of 12 months for all appeals.
(c) The applicant may not engage in construction during the period that the time period is tolled under subsection (3)(a).
(4) The department shall, for good cause shown, waive for up to 1 year any requirement that construction of an energy development project must proceed with due diligence. During the period that a waiver is in effect, an air quality permit does not expire because construction of an energy development project failed to proceed with due diligence.