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MT Numbers Game Gets the Green Light

March 5, 2008

Billings, MT – There's a green light for clean water in Montana rivers and streams. The Environmental Protection Agency has approved the state's rules meant to limit pollution of rivers and streams by coal bed methane production.

Tongue River rancher Mark Fix says it's been a long time coming, and he says the limits on sodium and other pollutants are reasonable.

"There's lots of room to keep the water clean and protect the ranchers and farmers, as well as develop methane."

Fix, a member of the Northern Plains Resource Council, says high sodium levels in waterways used for irrigation can harm crops by changing the chemistry of farm soils. He believes that, now that the standards are in place, the enforcement piece needs to come into play.

"That's the next step, to just make sure that water quality is kept good."

The methane industry opposed the standards initially, arguing it would be too expensive to install equipment to control the contaminants. It took the EPA almost two years to approve state rules.

Deborah Smith/Eric Mack, Public News Service - MT