MT Senators work to protect Kalispell's natural gas supply


by Angela Marshall

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Montana's U.S. Senators introduce a bill aimed at protecting Kalispell's natural gas supply.

Nearly 25,000 consumers in the Flathead receive natural gas from a 118 mile long pipeline that runs through Glacier National Park. Currently, the National Park Service doesn't have authority to issue a permit to Northwestern Energy to upgrade and maintain the pipeline.

Montana Power Company constructed the pipeline in 1962 and received its first special use permit in April of that year. The permit was renewed through 1990, but the Park Service later determined it did not have the authority needed to grant permits.

The legislation, introduced by Senators Jon Tester and Max Baucus, would allow the Park Service to issue a permit to perform maintenance on the pipeline, which will let Kalispell safely receive needed energy while protecting some of Montana's most treasured lands.

"This is a common sense bill to make sure Kalispell can continue getting the natural gas it needs the same way it has for the past 50 years. It's a no brainer," Baucus said.

"This bill cuts through red tape to keep Kalispell homes heated while protecting one of the most beautiful places on Earth," Tester said. "Responsible maintenance of the pipeline will prevent accidents and help keep Glacier National Park the ‘Crown of the Continent.'"