Court halts Clearwater Junction gravel pit as lawsuit pends

Work on the controversial Elbow Lake gravel pit and asphalt plant being built near Clearwater Junction will remain halted by court order after a state judge  blocked construction while a lawsuit over the facility plays out. 

The preliminary injunction granted by Montana District Court Judge John Larson on Tuesday will remain in place as long as the lawsuit is pending, and for the duration of a pending administrative case over the facility in front of the Montana Board of Environmental Review.

Protect the Clearwater, a nonprofit group formed to oppose the facility, brought the lawsuit seeking to block the gravel pit and asphalt plant over concerns that the facility would hurt the environment and that the state did not adequately assess such impacts when permitting the operation. The group sued the Montana Department of Environmental Quality, which permitted the operation, and LHC Inc., the company behind the venture. 

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Previously, on July 17, Larson issued a temporary restraining order preventing any work on the facility while the parties prepared for a July 21 hearing on the preliminary injunction. 

As proposed, the 21-acre facility near Elbow Lake would remove 110,000 cubic yards of

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