The Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) was created by the 1995 Legislature to consolidate natural resource and environmental health functions into one agency. We are primarily a regulatory agency; however, we also provide technical and compliance assistance. DEQ administers most of Montana's environmental, cleanup, monitoring, pollution prevention, and energy conservation laws and regulations. Specifically, our charge is to protect, maintain, and improve a clean and healthful environment in Montana for present and future generations.
Four divisions form DEQ. Click the names of the divisions below to learn more about their essential functions:
The Air, Energy and Mining Division permits and regulates environmentally-protective and productive operations in air, hard rock mining, opencut mining, and coal mining industries according to program statutory authority. The permitting and regulatory work includes extensive coordination with other programs to develop environmental review documents that comply with the Montana Environmental Policy Act, including environmental assessments and environmental
impact statements. The division includes the State Energy Office, or Energy Bureau, which promotes and improves Montanan’s access to energy efficiency and alternative energy sources while improving the state’s energy security by offering financing mechanisms, technical assistance, and education for public and private entities.
The Centralized Services Division is responsible for agency-wide administration, management, planning, evaluation, and support. The division provides overall policy direction and support services to the agency in the areas of human resources, information management and technology, fiscal, records management, safety, emergency management, and continuous process improvement.
- While not functionally organized within the Centralized Services Division, the Director's Office programs are included within the Program 10 budget. The Director's Office includes the director's staff, a centralized legal pool, the enforcement program, and the public policy unit (including public affairs as well as the Montana Environmental Policy Act and Major Facility Siting Act functions).
The Waste Management and Remediation Division protects human health and the environment by preventing exposure to contaminants, working with Montana communities and businesses to implement effective material management and cleanup strategies, and overseeing compliance with state and federal laws and regulations. It oversees and conducts or supports remedial investigation and efficient, cost-effective cleanup activities at state and federal superfund sites; supervises voluntary cleanup activities; reclaims abandoned mine lands; implements corrective actions at sites; and administers regulatory asbestos, methamphetamine, and waste management programs.
The Water Quality Division protects public health and water quality in the state of Montana. This is accomplished through the financing and technical assistance provided for community water and wastewater systems; the development of water quality restoration plans; managing a State-wide monitoring network; subdivision review; monitoring compliance of public water systems; and water discharge permitting. The division achieves this through coordination with the public and regulated community by proposing rules, drafting policy, and developing water quality standards.
The agency also provides administrative support to the Board of Environmental Review. In addition, although it is not attached to DEQ by law, the Petroleum Tank Release Compensation Board is functionally supported by DEQ. The board provides procedures and resources for reimbursement of expenditures for cleanup of petroleum tank leaks. Finally, the 2017 Legislature established an advisory team, the Libby Asbestos Superfund Oversight Committee, that is also attached to DEQ for administrative purposes.
DEQ implements and enforces many federally-delegated programs and state environmental statutes. These programmatic responsibilities result in regulatory and compliance outcomes ranging from Administrative Orders and cleanup workplans, to permits, licenses, registrations, and certifications. Our average agency budget is ~$125M, over a biennium, comprised mostly from program administration fees, federal grants, and limited general funds. DEQ also has settlement funds for large cleanup activities.
DEQ currently has approximately 375 full-time employees along with temporary and seasonal workers. Most employees are in Helena, but we also have five field offices across the state in Missoula, Kalispell, Bozeman, Billings, and Butte.