Montana Trout Unlimited - Legislative Alert
Legislative Alert from Montana Trout Unlimited
  17 March 2017  
Tell your House representative, especially those on the House Natural Resources Committee, to SUPPORT HB 593, which requires operators of hard rock mines in Montana to post adequate reclamation bonds while being subject to periodic environmental audits 

On Monday, March 20, at 3 p.m., the House Natural Resources Committee at the Montana Legislature will hear HB 593, sponsored by Rep. Nate McConnell of Missoula. HB 593 is a modest, common sense bill calling for long needed improvements to mine permitting, especially when sensitive areas such as the Smith River watershed are threatened. The measure requires:
  1.  Hard rock mines occurring in sulfide ore bodies to post reclamation bonds equal to 1 1/2 times the cost to the State of Montana should it have to reclaim and deal with pollution if mining companies walk away, shirking their reclamation obligations (as they often do). Currently, the required bond must only cover an estimated actual cost, which is negotiated between the company and agency regulators. In most cases the bonds are woefully inadequate, resulting in taxpayers paying for reclamation and water treatment. -sometimes in perpetuity. Mines tapping sulfide ore bodies are problematic because they often produce acid mine drainage, which once created is practically impossible to halt and must be dealt with forever. The Black Butte Mine proposed for Sheep Creek drainage in the Smith River watershed will be tapping copper from an ore body high in sulfides. 
  2. The bill also requires all licensed mines to be subject to an independent environmental audit every three years to assess whether operations comply with permits, are causing problems, and have adequate reclamation bonds given changing conditions. Currently no audit requirement exists, and the mining company in partnership with a beleaguered regulatory agency, the Montana Department of Environmental Quality, does monitoring in a perfunctory, catch-as-catch-can basis. This system is not working. 

Tell Legislators that HB 593 is a modest and very necessary measure that helps protect Montana taxpayers from paying for cleanup costs of hard rock mines. It also better ensures that modern mining in Montana is properly regulated to prevent undue environmental damage.


Contact members of the House Natural Resources Committee about this bill now and urge them to support HB 593. To contact representatives, follow the links below to send a message using the Legislator Online Messaging Form, use the following list of names and emails or leave a message at the Capitol switchboard: 444-4800.  
Rep.  KIM ABBOTT (D), (406) 439-8721,
Rep.  BOB BROWN (R), (406) 827-9894,
Rep.  ZACH BROWN (D)--Vice Chair, (406) 579-5697,
Rep.  VIRGINIA COURT (D), (406) 259-5099,
Rep.  WILLIS CURDY (D), (406) 546-0523,
Rep.  ROSS FITZGERALD (R), (406) 788-1443,
Rep.  JOHN L FLEMING (D), (406) 745-4161,
Rep.  KELLY FLYNN (R), (406) 459-7382,
Rep.  WYLIE GALT (R), (406) 220-0157,
Rep.  STEVE GUNDERSON (R), (406) 334-4370,
Rep.  THERESA MANZELLA (R)--Vice Chair, (406) 546-9462,
Rep.  DALE MORTENSEN (R), (406) 855-1424,
Rep.  MARK NOLAND (R), (406) 253-8982,
Rep.  KERRY WHITE (R)-Chair, (406) 587-3683,
Rep.  JONATHAN WINDY BOY (D), (406) 945-1805

Montana Trout Unlimited represents nearly 4,500 conservation-minded anglers organized to conserve Montana's coldwater fisheries and their watersheds.

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