Saying 'no' to risky mines

Public meetings aren’t usually the stuff of great entertainment.

But this spring a seemingly mundane exchange between bureaucrats underscored an big problem in Montana — one TU and a whole pile of other Montanans are working to fix.

Yes on 186 from Trout Unlimited on Vimeo.

The Yes for Responsible Mining Initiative, I-186 would require hard rock mines seeking new permits to show proof that they will not leave behind perpetual pollution like acid-mine drainage when they close their doors. It only applies to new mines and does not impact currently operating mines or expansions of currently operating mines.

In Montana, the Department of Environmental Quality, the permitting agency for hard rock mines, does not have the authority to deny a permit if it shows it will cause perpetual pollution. Or more to the point, it can’t say no to risky mines that leak toxic metals and acid-mine drainage, sometimes forever.

We’ve seen these types of businesses come and we’ve seen them go. When they go, they leave a big mess that costs tens of millions of dollars to clean up.

This fall Montanans will go to the ballot box with a choice to make: Do they want the power to protect our clean water and demand accountability from irresponsible mining? Or do they want to keep paying to clean up mining messes?

If you love fishing in Montana, consider donating, volunteering or spreading the word. Every little bit counts.


By Shauna Stephenson. Shauna Stephenson has been a writer, photographer, communicator and conservationist for nearly two decades, the past decade being spent at Trout Unlimited, working on projects…