Montana Code Annotated 2021



Part 3. Decisions

Opinion Issued With Decision -- Contents

75-20-303. Opinion issued with decision -- contents. (1) In rendering a decision on an application for a certificate, the department shall issue an opinion stating its reasons for the action taken.

(2) If the department has found that any regional or local law or regulation that would be otherwise applicable is unreasonably restrictive, it shall state in its opinion the reasons that it is unreasonably restrictive.

(3) A certificate issued by the department must include the following:

(a) an environmental evaluation statement related to the facility being certified. The statement must include but is not limited to analysis of the following information:

(i) the environmental impact of the proposed facility; and

(ii) any adverse environmental effects that cannot be avoided by issuance of the certificate;

(b) a plan for monitoring environmental effects of the proposed facility;

(c) a plan for monitoring the certified facility site between the time of certification and completion of construction;

(d) a time limit as provided in subsection (4);

(e) a statement confirming that notice was provided pursuant to subsection (5); and

(f) a statement signed by the applicant showing agreement to comply with the requirements of this chapter and the conditions of the certificate.

(4) (a) The department shall issue as part of the certificate the following time limits:

(i) For a facility as defined in 75-20-104(10)(a) that is more than 30 miles in length and for a facility defined in 75-20-104(10)(b), construction must be completed within 10 years.

(ii) For a facility as defined in 75-20-104(10)(a) that is 30 miles or less in length, construction must be completed within 5 years.

(iii) For a facility as defined in 75-20-104(10)(c), construction must begin within 6 years and continue with due diligence in accordance with preliminary construction plans established in the certificate.

(b) Unless extended, a certificate lapses and is void if the facility is not constructed or if construction of the facility is not commenced within the time limits provided in this section.

(c) The time limit may be extended for a reasonable period upon a showing by the applicant to the department that a good faith effort is being undertaken to complete construction under subsections (4)(a)(i) and (4)(a)(ii). Under this subsection, a good faith effort includes the process of acquiring any necessary state or federal permit or certificate for the facility and the process of judicial review of a permit or certificate.

(d) Construction may begin immediately upon issuance of a certificate unless the department finds that there is substantial and convincing evidence that a delay in the commencement of construction is necessary and should be established for a particular facility.

(5) (a) (i) Except as provided in subsection (5)(a)(ii), for a facility defined in 75-20-104(10)(a) and (10)(b), the environmental review conducted pursuant to Title 75, chapter 1, parts 1 through 3, prepared by the department must designate a 500-foot-wide facility siting corridor along the facility route.

(ii) Prior to preparation of the environmental review or the draft environmental impact statement, the department shall consult the applicant and, in a manner determined by rule, landowners and identify areas in which a corridor considered in the environmental review document should be more or less than 500 feet wide. The corridor width may not be narrower than the applicant's right-of-way. For each area in which the corridor is more or less than 500 feet in width, the department shall provide a written justification. The department may not modify a corridor after issuance of the final environmental review document.

(b) The department shall provide written notice of the availability of each environmental review document to each owner of property within a corridor. No more than 60 days prior to the availability of each environmental review document, the names and addresses of the property owners must be obtained from the property tax rolls of the county where the property is located. Except as provided in subsection (5)(c), the notice must:

(i) be delivered personally or by first-class mail. If delivered personally, the property owner shall sign a receipt verifying that the property owner received the statement.

(ii) inform the property owner that the property owner's property is located within a corridor;

(iii) inform the property owner about how a copy of the environmental review document may be obtained; and

(iv) inform the property owner of the property owner's rights under this chapter concerning the location of the facility and that more information concerning those rights may be obtained from the department.

(c) If there is more than one name listed on the property tax rolls for a single property, the notice must be mailed to the first listed property owner at the address on the property tax rolls.

(d) By mailing the notice as provided in subsection (5)(c), the notice requirements in subsection (5)(b) are satisfied.

(6) (a) A certificate holder may submit an adjustment of the location of a facility outside the approved facility siting corridor to the department. The adjustment must be accompanied by the written agreement of the affected property owner and all contiguous property owners that would be affected. The submission must include a map showing the approved facility siting corridor and the proposed adjustment. At the time of submission to the department, the adjustment must be accompanied by a copy of a legal notice published in a newspaper of general circulation in the area of the adjustment. The legal notice must specify that public comments on the adjustment may be submitted to the department within 10 days of the publication date of the notice.

(b) The certificate holder may construct the facility as described in the submission unless the department notifies the certificate holder within 15 days of the submission that the department has determined that:

(i) the adjustment would change the basis of any finding required under 75-20-301 to the extent that the department would have selected a different siting corridor for the facility; or

(ii) the adjustment would materially increase unmitigated adverse impacts.

(c) An adjustment pursuant to subsection (6)(a) is not subject to:

(i) Title 75, chapter 1, part 2;

(ii) a certificate amendment under 75-20-219; or

(iii) a board review under 75-20-223.

(d) (i) For each facility, the department shall maintain a list of persons who requested to receive electronic notice of any adjustment submitted pursuant to this subsection (6).

(ii) Upon receipt of a submitted adjustment, the department shall:

(A) post information about the adjustment on the department's website; and

(B) electronically notify each person identified in subsection (6)(d)(i) of the adjustment and where information about the adjustment may be viewed.

History: En. Sec. 11, Ch. 327, L. 1973; amd. Sec. 11, Ch. 494, L. 1975; R.C.M. 1947, 70-811(1), (2); amd. Sec. 1, Ch. 120, L. 1979; amd. Sec. 4, Ch. 239, L. 1983; amd. Sec. 2, Ch. 155, L. 1985; amd. Sec. 11, Ch. 573, L. 1985; amd. Sec. 3, Ch. 591, L. 1985; amd. Sec. 229, Ch. 418, L. 1995; amd. Sec. 542, Ch. 546, L. 1995; amd. Sec. 9, Ch. 583, L. 1995; amd. Sec. 17, Ch. 329, L. 1997; amd. Sec. 11, Ch. 293, L. 2001; amd. Sec. 14, Ch. 217, L. 2003; amd. Sec. 3, Ch. 382, L. 2011; amd. Sec. 1, Ch. 230, L. 2013; amd. Sec. 4, Ch. 280, L. 2017; amd. Sec. 7, Ch. 447, L. 2019; amd. Sec. 11, Ch. 13, L. 2021.