FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Mining Industry Shows Its True Colors

“Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice…I won’t be fooled again.”

-President George W. Bush, 2006

Montana has been raped — in every sense of the word — by the mining industry for a century and a half. Anyone who doubts that need only look across our beautiful state at the ugly, dead, and polluting sites left behind when the mining barons took the gold and Montana got the shaft, as well as the tailings, the polluted groundwater, the streams devoid of life, the slag piles and the pits full of incredibly poisonous water.

Now, with the potential for an initiative that would prohibit the state from permitting mines that will require pollution treatment “in perpetuity,” the mining industry is once again trying to convince us that it is environmentally friendly, and, jeez, we shouldn’t be trying to stop them from creating perpetual pollution.

As reported late last week, the Montana Mining Association filed a lawsuit against Republican Attorney General Tim Fox, who determines legality for initiatives, and Republican Secretary of State Cory Stapleton, who certifies that the measure can appear on the ballot. They want the Montana Supreme Court to find I-186, the “Yes for Responsible Mining” initiative for which backers expect to gather the 25,600 necessary signatures this week, legally insufficient.

The Montana Mining Association’s Tammy Johnson claims “in general we think that this could portend a ban on future mining.” But that directly contradicts the schtick of Johnson and the various mining companies now trying to convince Montanans to stick new mines at the headwaters of the famed Smith River and under the Cabinet Mountains Wilderness Area. They have been spouting about their new and responsible mining methods.

Obviously, if those mining methods are as environmentally benign as the foreign and out-of-state mining corporations and Montana Mining Association claim, then why would they seek to halt an initiative that only seeks to ban permitting of mines that will require pollution treatment “in perpetuity?”

Even more egregious was the full page ad from Hecla Mining Company headlined, “We believe in long-term relationships,” and closing with, “This is modern mining.” Perhaps someone should tell Hecla that “in perpetuity” means long-term, very, very long term. Only Montana’s “long-term relationship” with treating mining pollution usually happens after the mining companies have packed their bags and fled back to their home countries/states and/or declared bankruptcy, thus leaving the burden of their “in perpetuity” pollution treatment to Montana’s citizens.

Hecla, the company that wants to mine under the Cabinet Mountains Wilderness Area, is already involved in challenging the state’s “bad actor” law that prohibits companies and individuals who were responsible for severe mining pollution from receiving permits for new mines. Why? Because Hecla’s CEO is Phillip Baker, who was chief financial officer for Pegasus Mining, the firm that declared bankruptcy 20 years ago, leaving a collapsing open pit, ground and surface water pollution, and sticking Montanans with a $35 million cleanup tab, And no, it’s not close to being cleaned up and may never be.

It’s worth noting that the Golden Sunlight Mine made the same promises of “modern mining” decades ago. Yet today the Canadian-owned mine has so severely polluted groundwater near the confluence of the Boulder and Jefferson rivers that it will require treatment “in perpetuity.”

Montanans have been fooled far too many times by fast-talking extractive industries — and we continue to pay the very high price to treat their pollution “in perpetuity.” But as President George W. Bush mumbled in 2006, we “won’t be fooled again.”

 

More articles by:

George Ochenski is a columnist for the Missoulian, where this essay originally appeared.

Weekend Edition
January 18, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Melvin Goodman
Star Wars Revisited: One More Nightmare From Trump
John Davis
“Weather Terrorism:” a National Emergency
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Sometimes an Establishment Hack is Just What You Need
Joshua Frank
Montana Public Schools Block Pro-LGBTQ Websites
Louisa Willcox
Sky Bears, Earth Bears: Finding and Losing True North
Robert Fisk
Bernie Sanders, Israel and the Middle East
Robert Fantina
Pompeo, the U.S. and Iran
David Rosen
The Biden Band-Aid: Will Democrats Contain the Insurgency?
Nick Pemberton
Human Trafficking Should Be Illegal
Steve Early - Suzanne Gordon
Did Donald Get The Memo? Trump’s VA Secretary Denounces ‘Veteran as Victim’ Stereotyping
Andrew Levine
The Tulsi Gabbard Factor
John W. Whitehead
The Danger Within: Border Patrol is Turning America into a Constitution-Free Zone
Dana E. Abizaid
Kafka’s Grave: a Pilgrimage in Prague
Rebecca Lee
Punishment Through Humiliation: Justice For Sexual Assault Survivors
Dahr Jamail
A Planet in Crisis: The Heat’s On Us
John Feffer
Trump Punts on Syria: The Forever War is Far From Over
Dave Lindorff
Shut Down the War Machine!
Glenn Sacks
LA Teachers’ Strike: Student Voices of the Los Angeles Education Revolt  
Mark Ashwill
The Metamorphosis of International Students Into Honorary US Nationalists: a View from Viet Nam
Ramzy Baroud
The Moral Travesty of Israel Seeking Arab, Iranian Money for its Alleged Nakba
Ron Jacobs
Allen Ginsberg Takes a Trip
Jake Johnston
Haiti by the Numbers
Binoy Kampmark
No-Confidence Survivor: Theresa May and Brexit
Victor Grossman
Red Flowers for Rosa and Karl
Cesar Chelala
President Donald Trump’s “Magical Realism”
Christopher Brauchli
An Education in Fraud
Paul Bentley
The Death Penalty for Canada’s Foreign Policy?
David Swanson
Top 10 Reasons Not to Love NATO
Louis Proyect
Breaking the Left’s Gay Taboo
Kani Xulam
A Saudi Teen and Freedom’s Shining Moment
Ralph Nader
Bar Barr or Regret this Dictatorial Attorney General
Jessicah Pierre
A Dream Deferred: MLK’s Dream of Economic Justice is Far From Reality
Edward J. Martin
Glossip v. Gross, the Eighth Amendment and the Torture Court of the United States
Chuck Collins
Shutdown Expands the Ranks of the “Underwater Nation”
Paul Edwards
War Whores
Peter Crowley
Outsourcing Still Affects Us: This and AI Worker Displacement Need Not be Inevitable
Alycee Lane
Trump’s Federal Government Shutdown and Unpaid Dishwashers
Martha Rosenberg
New Questions About Ritual Slaughter as Belgium Bans the Practice
Wim Laven
The Annual Whitewashing of Martin Luther King Jr.
Nicky Reid
Panarchy as Full Spectrum Intersectionality
Jill Richardson
Hollywood’s Fat Shaming is Getting Old
Nyla Ali Khan
A Woman’s Wide Sphere of Influence Within Folklore and Social Practices
Richard Klin
Dial Israel: Amos Oz, 1939-2018
David Rovics
Of Triggers and Bullets
David Yearsley
Bass on Top: the Genius of Paul Chambers
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail