New leadership for state environmental and transportation agencies – MTPR

Montana’s Departments of Environmental Quality and Transportation will be under new leadership starting July 1.
Governor Greg Gianforte announced today (Thursday) that he has appointed DEQ’s Director Chris Dorrington to run the Department of Transportation. That agency’s current director, Mack Long, announced his retirement this spring.
Dorrington has been the head of Montana’s environmental regulatory agency since Gianforte appointed him in 2021. Dorrington has led efforts to review and update Montana’s Environmental Policy Act, and chaired the governor’s housing task force.
Sonja Nowakowski, DEQ’s Division Administrator for Air, Energy and Mining, will fill Dorrington’s position as DEQ Director. Nowakowski has been with the agency since 2021, and worked as a policy analyst for the nonpartisan Legislative Services Division for 15 years before that. Nowakowski’s replacement has not been named.
Dorrington will exit DEQ before the Supreme Court hears oral arguments in the youth-led climate case Held versus Montana. Both he and Nowakowski were called as witnesses for the state during the case’s two-week trial last summer, where a district court found that the state’s fossil fuel friendly policies had violated the plaintiffs’ right to a healthy environment.

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