MISSOULA – Twenty students from the University of Montana’s School of Law are currently taking a 1,400-mile, five-day bus tour across Montana to see firsthand the various forms of energy development in the state.
The Energy Facilities Field Trip is a course designed to provide law students an on-the-ground experience of the energy developments about which they study. They are accompanied by law school Interim Dean Greg Munro.
The trip will include a tour of the hydroelectric facility at Rainbow Dam in Great Falls, followed by a visit to the Spion Kop wind facility between Great Falls and Lewistown. The bus then will take the group to Sidney for a look at oil field facilities in the Bakken and to meet with city and county planners. That will be followed by a tour of PPL’s generators in Colstrip and the Western Energy Company coal mine there. At the end of the week, students will see Northwestern Energy’s transmission control center in Butte, followed by a visit to the David Gates Generating Station in Anaconda.
At each energy location and during transit on the bus, lawyers who specialize in each form of energy will instruct the students in the laws that govern the permitting, development, siting and operation of facilities involved.
“Our graduates will be representing energy developers, landowners, federal and state regulators and environmental groups and will be state leaders making decisions about energy development,” Munro said. “In every case it will be important that they have had the experience of seeing the facilities and the communities where the facilities are located.”
The group will have overnight stays in Lewistown, Sidney, Miles City and Billings. The UM School of Law will host local lawyers at breakfasts with the students in Lewistown on Tuesday, March 31; Sidney on Wednesday, April 1; and Miles City on Thursday, April 2. The Crowley Fleck Law Firm of Billings will host the students and local energy lawyers at a breakfast in Billings on Friday, April 3.
Northwestern Energy, PPL, Western Energy and the Crowley Fleck law firm have all collaborated with the school in allowing tours of the facilities and hosting meals during instruction at their locations.
“In addition to seeing the energy facilities, we are also excited our students get to experience the grand beauty and big sky of eastern Montana and its communities,” said Munro.