Schweitzer rejects Wyoming-Montana water agreement

Billings, MT – Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer today rejected a proposed water quality agreement with Wyoming.

He says it failed to protect Montana's farmers and fisheries and could've curtailed future energy development in the state.

The deal was hashed out during months of negotiations between the two states. It called for tighter standards for water discharged by Wyoming's coal-bed methane industry into the Tongue River. But it left out two of the Tongue's main tributaries -- something Schweitzer says he couldn't accept.

He says it was equivalent to a homeowner putting a double lock on the front door but leaving the back door and windows wide open.

Water discharged during coal-bed methane production is high in sodium and other salts, which can ruin crops and soils and harm fisheries. The Tongue flows into southeastern Montana from northern Wyoming, which has experienced intense coal-bed methane development in recent years.