Protesters rally over NorthWestern Energy's natural gas plant in Laurel

Northern Plains protesters.jpg
Posted at 6:05 AM, Dec 14, 2022
and last updated 2022-12-14 10:32:51-05

LAUREL - Construction is happening in Laurel to build a new methane plant.

The Northern Plains Resource Council members rallied on Tuesday to oppose the plant.

They're concerned about the NorthWestern Energy natural gas plant.

They say that the city and the county have not quite determined the zoning because it's now being constructed on land that's zoned for agriculture.

The cold and snowy weather could not keep a group away Tuesday as debate once a gain heating up over the new 175 megawatt Yellowstone County Generating Station, a reciprocating internal combustion engine (RICE units), natural gas plant.

"There are a lot of issues with this plant that should be addressed and looked at more closely," said Steve Krum, a Northern Plains member.

Protesters hope to help the project through a zoning debate.

The resource council and others say the city and county allowed the project to move forward on land zoned for agriculture.

"I've lived in this area either in town or outside of town my whole life," Krum said. "And we are part of this community those that live around the community and this plant will impact those around the committee community. But it will also impact the city of Laurel."

The group has filed a lawsuit against Northwestern Energy.

According to Northwestern, it is building a reciprocating internal combustion engine (RICE units), natural gas plant that will sit on 33 acres oriented in a way to minimize noise and carbon emissions.

But residents living on Thiel Road across the River aren't convinced.

"This is very close to the city of Laurel," Krum said. "This is very close to my daughter's family's residential areas down by the river and it could be a very dangerous plant, just the type of plant is being built."

While the focus of this rally was on zoning, they still have big environmental concerns.

The Northern Plains Resource Council wants a judge to determine who has jurisdiction over the zoning.

The city of Laurel Planning Department says it cannot comment because of the litigation and we have not yet heard back from the Yellowstone County commissioners.

Northwestern also says it can't comment on pending litigation.