In Montana, nearly 10,000 miles of stream are acidic or laced with heavy metals like lead, mercury, and arsenic. This perpetual pollution – nasty stuff that literally lasts forever – from both modern and historic mines has polluted aquifers, destroyed fish and wildlife habitat and created public health hazards across the state.
Montanans are paying millions each year to clean up the messes left behind from irresponsible mining practices. The Zortman Landusky Mine has cost taxpayers $26 million already with another $2-3 million each year for ongoing water treatment. At Beal Mine, over $13 million of taxpayer money has been spent for cleanup and ongoing water treatment. None of that takes into account the millions, potentially billions, of dollars it will take to clean up the messes from nearly 300 abandoned mines across Montana.
This year, Trout Unlimited, in partnership with numerous other conservation organizations, are joining in support of the Yes for Responsible Mining ballot initiative.
“This measure ensures future mine reclamation is done right so that Montana taxpayers and our clean water are protected,” said David Brooks, executive director of Montana Trout Unlimited.”
The initiative requires new mines (only new mines) to demonstrate to Montana’s Department of Environmental Quality clear and convincing evidence that they will not saddle Montanans with the life-long cost of cleaning up a leaking mine. It gives DEQ the necessary tools to protect Montana taxpayers, future generations, and our clean water while allowing for responsible mineral development.