What Can I Do?



We Need Your Comments to the DEQ About this Proposal!

On January 25th, 2023 the MT Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) released a Draft Environmental Assessment (EA) on the proposed Rehbein Gravel Pit and Asphalt Plant. The Draft EA was written by the DEQ pursuant to Riverside Contracting’s submission of Permit #3415 to construct a gravel pit and operate an asphalt plant on 157 acres, potentially extracting 1,000,000 cubic yards of gravel over 25 years. The Permit was submitted on April 7th, 2022 and the DEQ has informed us that comment period on the permit “…will continue until the applicant meets all requirements of the Opencut Mining Act” (DEQ correspondence). 

The DEQ’s Environmental Analysis for the Rehbein Pit was released on January 25th, with a 30-day comment period that ended February 24th, 2023. The DEQ refused our request for a 60-day extension of the comment period, noting that “DEQ receives and reviews public comments throughout the permitting process, so public comments related to the permit application can still be submitted.” So while the official 30-day comment period on the EA has ended, DEQ will still accept comments.

While ambiguous and contradictory, it is the official position of DEQ to not accept comments directed to the EA, but accept them as they relate to the broader Permit application and process. So this allows us the opportunity to provide significant input on Riverside’s Permit Application. While our group’s comments written by Ferguson Law and the Air Quality and Hydrogeologic Reviews by HydroSolutions on the EA have revealed its deficiencies, any comments related to what the DEQ has neglected to analyze, or errors in its process (like constitutional violations of the Public’s right to participate and to a clean and healthful environment) are still important to bring to the DEQ’s attention. 

Comments should be written so as to refer to Permit #3415, not to the EA. Comments can be made asserting that “the EA neglected to consider: x,y,z”. Comments should call for a higher level of analysis, or an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). The DEQ failed to adequately scope out the full range of issues and impacts to the environment and community, did not adequately enter into meaningful consultations with the Tribe and EWAM (Garden of 1,000 Buddhas) as required by Federal Law, nor did they respond to the high level of controversy the project poses which suggests the DEQ conduct a full EIS.

Any comments that show how the proposal will affect our lives, homes, properties and communities are still very important. Any comments that raise issues that haven’t been adequately covered or discovered yet are still needed. DEQ must consider all of our comments until it signs off on the Permit and allows Riverside Contracting to proceed or to deny the permit (unlikely). Failure of DEQ to consider any or all of our comments then becomes material that our legal team can consider using during an Administrative Review of the DEQ’s Decision and any litigation that may follow.

Comments may be emailed to: DEQOpencut@mt.gov

To: Montana DEQ
Re: Opencut permit #3415, Marvin Rehbein Site, Lake County Montana

If you want to Cc: a copy to Friends of the Jocko, please email them to: legal@friendsofthejocko.org


On January 25th, MT DEQ released a Draft Environmental Assessment and opened a 30 comment period (now expired, see comments above).

Accompanying the Draft EA was an updated Permit submitted by Riverside Contracting, responding to the DEQ’s latest deficiency notice.


There are many resources on our website to help you to write your comments. There are the Basic Facts for a quick introduction to the issue. You can find information on the changes in legislation and rules from HB 599, and also information on Riverside Contracting’s proposed asphalt plant and gravel pit. There is a fact sheet on the permitting process. We will continue to update resources as we can!

Friends of the Jocko submitted its organizational comments, prepared by Ferguson Law on Sept. 6, 2022. Read it to see how we are approaching the permit.

In your comments, please include all the ways you believe an industrial development like an asphalt plant & million cubic yard gravel pit will affect you and your family, your home and community, livelihood, and your rights! There are so many different environmental, social and cultural ways that this development can impact us and the Jocko Valley. Let the Montana DEQ know about them all!

You can send your comments to the Montana Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) about the proposed asphalt plant and gravel pit in Arlee by sending your comments to the following email address:


or snail mail address:

DEQ Opencut Mining Program
PO Box 200901
Helena MT, 59620-0901

Fax: 406-444-4988

Reference Opencut #3415.

If you want Friends of the Jocko to receive a copy of your comments, please email them to: legal@friendsofthejocko.org

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