Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Veto cyanide mining bill

Posted on Wed, Apr 6, 2011 at 2:22 PM

Remember in 1998 when you voted to ban cyanide heap leach mining?

Remember how, in 2004, you voted against the mining industry's attempt to overturn the ban?

Did you think that Montanans had made their opposition to cyanide heap-leach mining clear? I did too, until I heard that Sen. Terry Murphy, R-Caldwell, sponsored a bill to bypass the majority of Montanans' wishes. Senate Bill 306 would allow new mines to simply ship their ore to other sites that still use the process (in 1998, some were grandfathered in), including the Golden Sunlight Mine, which is, funnily enough, located in Murphy's district, and, not so funny, has had 13 major cyanide leaks ac-cording to the Department of Environmental Quality and will have to treat its water for perpetuity.

I attended the hearing for SB 306 on Wednesday, March 23. Opponents outnumbered proponents three to one. The opponents included farmers and ranchers who have had their water poisoned from mining waste, people who work along rivers threatened by new mines if this bill passes (including one at the headwaters of Rock Creek), representatives from the tourism industry concerned over a decrease in tourism dollars should our landscape and waters be poisoned further, those concerned with the tendency of mining companies to leave the state while our citizens pay to clean up their messes (past cyanide processing mistakes at Zorman-Landusky and Beal Mountain cost Montanans hundreds of millions of dollars in cleanup fees), and high school students worried about the health of their state. Despite the opposition, the House Natural Resource Committee passed the bill 10-5 on a party line vote. It then passed the Republican-controlled House of Representatives.

As a last resort, please say no to cyanide heap leach mining again by writing or calling Gov. Schweitzer and urging him to veto this bill. Montana deserves better. Our water is more precious than gold.

Wendy Fox


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