DEQ Press Releases

Harbage, Rebecca

DEQ announces short-term extension of agreement with the Navajo Transitional Energy Company

HELENA – The Montana Department of Environmental Quality and the Navajo Transitional Energy Company (NTEC) today announced a short-term 65-day extension of the Interim Limited Waiver of Sovereign Immunity Agreement, originally signed on Oct. 25, 2019. The extension will allow operations to continue at the Spring Creek Mine in Big Horn County, Mont., while the parties negotiate a long-term arrangement.

 

Prior to NTEC assuming ownership of the coal mine from the bankrupt Cloud Peak Energy Inc. in October 2019, DEQ raised concerns about the possibility that NTEC may assert tribal sovereign immunity claims in the event that DEQ or the public needed to enforce state laws.  NTEC is a company created by the Navajo Nation.  Before accepting the company as a contractor responsible for day-to-day operations at the mine, DEQ required a limited waiver of sovereign immunity.

 

“We are committed to continuing our conversations with NTEC to ensure that NTEC’s affiliation with the Navajo Nation is duly recognized and respected, while also ensuring that the state-issued permits for the mine are fully enforceable, on par with any other coal mine operating under state laws,” said DEQ director Shaun McGrath.   “This is a unique and complex issue that requires us to be deliberate in our approach to avoid any unintended consequences.  We appreciate NTEC’s commitment to working through these issues with us.”

 

DEQ continues to work with NTEC toward eventual permit transfer under the Montana Strip and Underground Mine Reclamation Act.  Permit transfer also requires the company to secure more than $108 million in reclamation bonds and the mineral lease transfers for the Spring Creek Mine.

 

Contact:

Rebecca Harbage, Public Policy Director
Montana Department of Environmental Quality
phone: 406-444-2813 email: rharbage@mt.gov

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