A judge canceled the air quality permit for a natural gas power plant that’s under construction along the Yellowstone River in Montana citing worries over climate change.
State District Judge Michael Moses ruled Thursday that Montana officials failed to adequately consider the 23 million tons of planet-warming greenhouse gases that the project would emit over several decades.
Many utilities across the U.S. have replaced coal power with less polluting natural gas plants in recent years. But the industry remains under pressure to abandon fossil fuels altogether as climate change worsens.
The $250 million plant is being built by Sioux Falls, South Dakota-based NorthWestern Energy and would operate for at least 30 years. The company will appeal the order, a spokesperson said in a statement Friday, saying that the ruling could jeopardize reliable power service.
Montana officials had argued they had no authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions. They also said that because climate change is a global phenomenon, state law prevented them from looking at its impacts.
But Moses said officials from the Montana Department of Environmental Quality had misinterpreted the law.