MSGA Raises Questions Regarding the BLM Utility-Scale Solar Plan


HELENA, Mont. (April 19, 2024) – The Montana Stockgrowers Association (MSGA) submitted comments questioning multiple facets of the BLM’s Utility-Scale Solar Development Plan Draft Programmatic Impact Statement (PEIS). The plan includes a swath of alternatives detailing the agency’s criteria for approving solar development applications on agency managed land. The proposal includes a strong focus in north central Montana, primarily in Phillips County. Identified areas were selected based on primary factors like proximity to transmission lines, exclusionary zones, and slope greater than 10%. Not included in the plan were grazing exclusions. 

The PEIS acknowledged that solar development is incompatible with grazing but did not seek to mitigate the potential loss of grazing acres. MSGA opened their comments by emphasizing the positive relationship between landscape health and grazing, describing how disruption by solar development would eliminate the value brought forth by both. The comments called for the BLM to include grazing lands as exclusionary zones, to ensure they are not eligible for development under any of the proposed alternatives, citing resource conflicts as the basis for the determination. 

The comments stated, “Inherently, grazing and solar development are resource conflicts and therefore grazing lands should be defined as exclusionary areas. It is important to note that grazing lands are complementary resource areas because of the symbiotic relationship between soil and vegetative health, wildlife habitat, and livestock production.”

MSGA went on to emphasize the importance of thorough analysis of the project through the NEPA process, and ensuring adherence to the endangered species, clean air and clean water acts. They further stated that future Right of Way (ROW) applications for future transmission lines to support the energy generated by the project should not be grandfathered into approval under this PEIS. Under the current proposal, if the ROW applications are approved, land use plans can be amended to alter eligible acres for development. 

The Montana Stockgrowers will continue to monitor plan development and will remain engaged on the issue, working with producers to advocate for grazing land protections. 

The Montana Stockgrowers Association is a grassroots membership organization and is the trusted voice of cattle ranchers. With over 135 years of history, MSGA advocates and ensures cattle ranching remains relevant, safe and a sustainable way of life for generations to come.


Keni Reese

Director of Marketing & Communications


[email protected] view more MSGA news, visit