On April 30, 2021 Governor Gianforte signed the most egregious dirty water bill from this year’s Legislative Session, Senate Bill 358, into law, selling Montana and clean water down the river.
SB 358 revises Montana’s water quality standards in two substantive ways. First, it wholesale eliminates the EPA-approved numeric nutrient criteria that protect waterways from degradation and requires the implementation of an ambiguous, unproven adaptive management program for nutrients. Second, it radically expands pollution exemptions for special polluting interests discharging into our waterways. As backwards as it sounds, with the signing of SB 358 Montana went from being a national leader in adopting numeric nutrient standards that protected most waterways from harmful algal blooms to being the first state in the country to eliminate a proven science-based approach.
The key take-away from the passage of SB 358 is that it violates federal water pollution control law and, as such, it is EPA’s duty to disapprove Montana’s illegal new nutrient rules and update Montana’s rules to again require a science-based approach to controlling our nutrient pollution.
Governor Gianforte ignored science, the law, and public opinion and sided with polluting special interests by signing the legislation into law — risking the lifeblood of Montana, our cold, clean waterways. Upper Missouri Waterkeeper will not sit by idly while our clean water and healthy rivers are under attack. Stay tuned and check out our past work on SB 358 and media coverage we’ve received: