75-20-216. Study, evaluation, and report on proposed facility -- assistance by other agencies. (1) After receipt of an application, the department shall within 30 days notify the applicant in writing that:
(a) the application is in compliance and is accepted as complete; or
(b) the application is not in compliance and shall list the deficiencies. Upon correction of these deficiencies and resubmission by the applicant, the department shall within 15 days notify the applicant in writing that the application is in compliance and is accepted as complete.
(a) commence an evaluation of the proposed facility and its effects, considering all applicable criteria listed in 75-20-301, and shall issue a decision, opinion, order, certification, or permit as provided in subsection (3);
(b) use, to the extent that it considers applicable, valid and useful existing studies and reports submitted by the applicant or compiled by a state or federal agency; and
(c) if a modification of a proposed facility is needed as determined by the department, consult with the applicant. The proposed modification must be analyzed in the environmental review document prepared under Title 75, chapter 1, parts 1 through 3.
(3) Except as provided in 75-1-205(4), 75-1-208(4)(b), and 75-20-231, the department shall issue, within 9 months following the date of acceptance of an application, any decision, opinion, order, certification, or permit required under the laws, other than those contained in this chapter, administered by the department. A decision, opinion, order, certification, or permit, with or without conditions, must be made under those laws. Nevertheless, the department retains authority to make the determination required under 75-20-301(1)(c) or (3). The decision, opinion, order, certification, or permit must be used in the final site selection process. Prior to the issuance of a preliminary decision by the department and pursuant to rules adopted by the department, the department shall provide an opportunity for public review and comment.
(4) Except as provided in 75-1-205(4), 75-1-208(4)(b), and 75-20-231, within 9 months following acceptance of an application for a facility, the department shall issue a report that must contain the department's studies, evaluations, recommendations, customer fiscal impact analysis, if required pursuant to 69-2-216, and other pertinent documents resulting from its study and evaluation. An environmental impact statement or analysis prepared pursuant to the Montana Environmental Policy Act may be included in the department findings if compelling evidence indicates that adverse environmental impacts are likely to result due to the construction and operation of a proposed facility. If the application is for a combination of two or more facilities, the department shall issue its report within the greater of the lengths of time provided for in this subsection for either of the facilities.
(5) For projects subject to joint review by the department and a federal land management agency, the department's certification decision may be timed to correspond to the record of decision issued by the participating federal agency.
(6) The departments of transportation; fish, wildlife, and parks; natural resources and conservation; revenue; and public service regulation and the consumer counsel shall report to the department information relating to the impact of the proposed facility on each department's area of expertise. The department shall allocate funds obtained from filing fees to the departments making reports and to the office of consumer counsel to reimburse them for the costs of compiling information and issuing the required report.