It’s kind of a long shot, but opponents of mining along the edge of the Cabinet Mountains Wilderness are employing “bad actor” law in an attempt to block issuance of mining permits to the Hecla Mining Company . . .
Opponents of Hecla Mining Co’s projects near the Cabinet Mountains Wilderness claim its chief executive officer can’t seek new permits until he accounts for millions of dollars in reclamation work incurred by his previous mining company.
In a letter released Monday, the coalition of environmental groups asked the Montana Department of Environmental Quality to suspend all permitting efforts requested by Hecla CEO Phillips Baker. Baker was formerly chief financial officer of Pegasus Gold Inc., whose bankruptcy in 1998 left the state responsible for at least $33 million in acid mine contamination at the Zortman and Landusky mines between the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation and Malta.
The Pegasus bankruptcy was a major factor in the Legislature updating the Metal Mine Reclamation Act in 2001, with its “bad actor” provision prohibiting officials of uncompleted reclamation efforts from starting new projects.