BUTTE – Mining supporters in Montana claim a proposed ballot initiative could be dangerous to the mining industry.
“This is probably one of the important issues facing the state of Montana right now,” said Rep. Jim Keane, D-Butte.
A rally was held in Butte opposing I-186, which was started by environmental groups to prevent new mining permits in the state in an effort to prevent pollution of waterways. Opponents at the rally at Montana Tech said the initiative is unnecessary and only there to tie up the mining industry in endless litigation.
“Mining is done responsibly in Montana with the backing of the Legislature today. You cannot send one gallon of polluted water out of any mining in Montana,” Keane said.
Miners from the around the state and representatives from communities that rely on mining for their economy spoke out against the initiative.
“We can’t continue to cut our budgets and cut our budgets. We have about a $15 million overall budget and we can’t cut it anymore,” said Lincoln County Commissioner Jerry Bennett.
Opponents of this initiative say it’s funded by outside interests and won’t benefit the state’s economy or its miners.
“When I look at I-186 it reminds me of a Pace Picante sauce commercial: ‘Made in New York City,’” said Mark Thompson of Montana Resources. “It’s not about Montana clean water, it’s about locking up Montana and throwing away the key and that’s what these New York people want to do. “
Though the initiative has not yet been placed on the November ballot this group vows to continue its fight against it.