Yes for Responsible Mining calls on Stillwater Mine to support I-186

By: 
David Brooks
Montana Trout Unlimited
Thursday, September 13, 2018

In response to a new television ad, the Yes for Responsible Mining Initiative has sent a letter inviting the Stillwater Mining Company to join its campaign for responsible mining.

The ad, featuring a Stillwater employee fishing along the

Stillwater River, suggests that mining already strikes a balance in Montana between protecting the environment and mining responsibly noting incorrectly that the initiative is not necessary.

Stillwater is known for its commitment to environmental responsibility and is not expected to cause perpetual pollution. I-186

will not apply to responsible mines such as Stillwater. Specifically,

I-186 will not apply to any mines that have already been permitted, nor future expansions of them.  Stillwater will not be affected.

I-186 aims to keep irresponsible mines from leaving Montanans with perpetual pollution. Currently no law exists that would enable the state to deny a mine permit that would require perpetual water treatment.

“From watching that ad, it sounds like Stillwater and I-186 want the same thing -- the assurance that any mine in the future will be as clean as theirs,” said David Brooks of Montana Trout Unlimited. “This initiative ensures that in the future, the state will only permit mines that won’t pollute forever, like Stillwater. We’d welcome Stillwater to join our cause of clean water for all our rivers.”

Trout Unlimited sent Stillwater a letter Friday inviting them to support 186.

“Supporters of I-186 point to your operations as the watermark of responsible mining that would become the norm for future mines in Montana should this initiative pass. Since the Good Neighbor Agreement was negotiated in the late 1990s and signed in early 2000, Stillwater has been a trusted partner in the conservation community in ensuring the Stillwater River stays clean for generations. We are grateful for this commitment and for your workers who ensure it,” the letter noted. “But unfortunately, not all companies are as committed as yours. In the same decade that you negotiated the Good Neighbor Agreement, Pegasus Mining Company fought new mining laws that would have prevented permanent pollution.”

Years later, Pegasus declared bankruptcy and their Beal Mountain Mine now leaks acid mine drainage into the water, costing nearly $14 million in public dollars to clean up and about $400,000 each year to treat toxic water, potentially forever.

“We trust you do not want to see that kind of mine ever built in Montana again,” the letter said of Beal. “That is why I believe we have much more in common than not.”

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