76-15-902. Legislative findings and declaration of purpose. (1) The legislature finds that the need for an economical supply of clean-burning energy is a national and state priority.
(2) The legislature further finds that Montana possesses plentiful reserves of clean-burning natural gas contained in coal beds.
(3) The legislature further finds that the extraction of natural gas from coal beds may result in unanticipated adverse impacts to land and to water quality and availability.
(4) The legislature declares that there is a compelling public need to promote efforts that preserve the environment and protect the right to use and enjoy private property. The legislature further declares that the purpose of this part is to establish a long-term coal bed methane protection account and a coal bed methane protection program for the purpose of compensating private landowners and water right holders for damage to land and to water quality and availability that is attributable to the development of coal bed methane wells.
(5) The legislature further declares that the provisions of this part do not relieve coal bed methane developers or operators that own, develop, or operate coal bed methane wells and collection systems of their legal obligation to compensate landowners and water right holders for damages caused by the development of coal bed methane.
(6) The legislature further declares that the provisions of this part do not relieve coal bed methane developers or operators from:
(a) any liability associated with the exploration or development of coal bed methane; or
(b) the responsibility to comply with any applicable provision of Titles 75, 82, and 85 and any other provision of law applicable to the protection of natural resources or the environment.