Proposed clean water initiative is drawing scrutiny from Montana Resources

Posted at 6:03 PM, Apr 06, 2018
and last updated 2018-04-06 20:03:01-04

BUTTE – Proposed clean water initiative that has the backing of Trout Unlimited is drawing scrutiny from the Montana Resources mining operation in Butte.

The aim is to get an initiative on the November ballot that would allow Montana’s Department of Environmental Quality to deny mining operations from polluting the state’s waterways.

“This allows our Department of Environmental Quality to reject new mine permits that include permanent treatment of polluted water,” said Montana Trout Unlimited Executive Director David Brooks.

However, according to a memorandum issued by the Governor’s Office of Budget and Program Planning, which examined the initiative said that if it was adopted Montana Resources in Butte and the Golden Sunlight Mine Just east of Butte, could be denied amendments to important operating permits. Trout Unlimited officials counter that the initiative would only affect new mining operations.

“One thing we have done is been very careful and done our diligence to make sure this not affect any currently operating permitted Mines or expansions of those mines,” Brooks said.

Montana Resources told me they are examining the initiative to see if it will have an adverse effect on future mining operation. Montana Resources has said they could continue mining for another 30 years in Butte.

However, some mine employees have suggested on social media that if the initiative is enacted and permits at Montana Resources are denied, the company could cease operations within a couple years.

The initiative needs to get about 25,500 signatures by June 22 to make it on the ballot.