Conservationists scored a win in the ongoing battle over mining development on the edge of the Cabinet Wilderness . . .
Montana illegally re-issued a water pollution discharge permit in 2004 for the proposed Montanore copper and silver mine under the Cabinet Mountains, according to a legal ruling that environmental groups are calling “a big win” in the fight to prohibit development of the controversial mine in northwestern Montana.
In her July 24 ruling, District Court Judge Kathy Seeley wrote that the Montana Department of Environmental Quality’s (DEQ) re-issuance of the discharge permit to Hecla Mining Company and its subsidiary Montanore Minerals Corp. was based in part “on arbitrary and capricious decisions,” and violates the federal Clean Water Act and the Montana Water Quality Act. She vacated the permit, and remanded the matter to DEQ for further action consistent with her decision.
Hecla Mining, which is trying to establish two mines on the edge of the Cabinet Mountains Wilderness, lost a round in district court last week . . .
A Lewis and Clark County District Court judge has struck down a water permit issued by the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation for the proposed Rock Creek Mine near Noxon.
The decision by Judge Kathy Seeley last week is the latest in a series of setbacks for Idaho-based Hecla Mining Company, which is trying to permit and develop two copper and silver mines in Northwest Montana. But environmental groups cheered the decision and said it was a major step forward in protecting the Cabinet Mountain Wilderness, which sits directly above the proposed mines.
“The court’s rulings safeguards some of the purest waters in the lower 48 from the destructive impacts threatened by the Rock Creek Mine,” said Earthjustice attorney Katherine O’Brien. “The ruling also affirms that the state’s job is to protect Montana’s waters from the benefits of all Montanans — not to give those waters away to corporate interests without taking a hard look at the impacts.”
Hecla Mining wants to dig a couple of mines along the edge of the Cabinet Mountains Wilderness. Montana wants reimbursed for cleaning up an old mess first. This excellent Flathead Beacon op-ed by Jim Nash lays out the situation very clearly . . .
When Webb Scott Brown of the Chamber of Commerce attacks Montana’s enforcement of a state law that protects taxpayers from shouldering the cleanup bill for mining companies, it’s clearly time to impose an old-fashioned smell test. In weaving together his argument, he got many of his facts wrong.
I live in the community where Phillips Baker’s company proposes to mine. And as the retired owner of a sawmill and wood products company I know the challenges of creating jobs and making a livelihood in rural Montana. I also understand the obligations businesses and their leaders must take on when they seek the privilege of developing our state’s natural resources.
From my perspective, the bad actor law is common sense. It simply says that mining companies and their top executives don’t get another shot at our state’s natural resources if they walked out on their cleanup obligations in the past — unless they’re prepared to pay back the state for cleanup work the public had to do in the company’s place.
Hecla Mining inches closer to Forest Service approval of their proposed Rock Creek Mine on the edge of the Cabinet Mountains Wilderness.
Meanwhile, Montana has a bone to pick with Hecla CEO Phillips Baker Jr. over past shenanigans in the state . . .
Federal officials proposed approval of the first phase of a silver and copper mine beneath a northwestern Montana wilderness area amid a legal fight between state officials and the company behind the project, officials said Wednesday.
A final decision is expected in coming weeks on the Rock Creek Mine near Noxon after the Kootenai National Forest released a lengthy environmental study of the proposal, forest spokesman Willie Sykes said
Idaho-based Hecla Mining Co. would initially mine on 20 acres, to determine the feasibility of a full-scale mine that would cover almost 500 acres.
Hecla Mining wants to dig a couple of mines along the edge of the Cabinet Mountains Wilderness. Montana wants reimbursed for cleaning up an old mess first. Hecla is challenging this in court . .
An Idaho mining company was due in a Montana courtroom on Thursday to challenge its designation by state officials as an industry “bad actor” because of pollution tied to its CEO.
Hecla Mining Co. wants a judge to block the Montana Department of Environmental Quality from suspending permits for two new silver and copper mines the company has proposed beneath the Cabinet Mountains Wilderness, a remote, 147-square mile (380-square kilometer) expanse of glaciated peaks near the Idaho border.
[April 12,] State District Judge Matthew Cuffe scheduled afternoon arguments in the case.
The Coeur d’Alene-based company and its president and CEO, Phillips S. Baker, Jr., were issued violations letters last month because of ongoing pollution at mines operated by Baker’s former employer.
Here’s your daily dose of schadenfreude: Hecla Mining wants to develop two mines along the boundary of the Cabinet Mountains Wilderness area. Montana wants them to pay cleanup costs for a previous mess first . . .
The head of an Idaho mining company says Montana officials appear to be trying to delay two mines proposed beneath a wilderness area, designating him a “bad actor” because of past pollution.
Hecla Mining President Phillips S. Baker, Jr. told The Associated Press Friday the designation was unwarranted during his first public interview since accusations last week that he violated state mining laws.
Baker is a former vice president for Pegasus Mining. Its bankruptcy left taxpayers on the hook for costly pollution cleanups including at the Zortman-Landusky gold mine.
That didn’t take long. As mentioned here yesterday, Hecla Mining and its president were deemed to be in violation of the state’s “bad actor” law. Basically, Montana wants to be reimbursed for cleaning up messes made back in the late ’90s. Hecla, which is trying to open up two new mines on the edge of the Cabinet Mountains Wilderness, has responded with a lawsuit . . .
An Idaho mining company sued Montana environmental regulators on Friday for labeling the company and its president “bad actors” who should pay for cleanups at several polluted sites before pursuing two new mines beneath a wilderness area.
Attorneys for subsidiaries of Hecla Mining described the state’s allegation that the company is responsible for past and ongoing pollution from defunct mines as frivolous.
Hecla, based in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, claims to be the oldest precious metals mining company in the United States. It says it had no direct involvement in the polluted mines at issue.
Well now, Hecla Mining is definitely not having things all their own way with plans to develop two mines along the edge of the Cabinet Mountains Wilderness area There’s a little matter of past sins coming home to roost . . .
An Idaho company could be forced to pay the state of Montana more than $30 million in cleanup costs from pollution at several former mining sites before it can pursue two new projects beneath a wilderness area, state regulators said Tuesday.
Hecla Mining Inc. and its president were deemed to be in violation of the state’s “bad actor” law that targets individuals and companies that abandon polluted sites, said Montana Department of Environmental Quality Director Tom Livers. The alleged violations were first reported by The Associated Press.
Hecla’s president and CEO, Phillips Baker, Jr., is a former executive for Pegasus Gold Corp., which went bankrupt in 1998, leaving government agencies with a massive cleanup bill from three Montana sites that polluted surrounding waterways when cyanide, arsenic and other contaminants leaked out of the mines.
Hecla Mining’s proposed Rock Creek Mine near the Cabinet Mountains Wilderness received partial approval from the US Forest Service — enough to build an adit and do some environmental work. By and large, this is a victory for opposition environmental groups . . .
Opponents and proponents of a proposed copper and silver mine in Sanders County are both celebrating after the U.S. Forest Service announced it would issue only a partial approval for the project in an upcoming Record of Decision.
Conservation groups say that the decision to withhold a full development permit for the Rock Creek Mine proves that a massive industrial project should not be developed beneath a wilderness area for fear that it will dewater the land above. But officials with Hecla Mining Company, the Coeur d’Alene-based mining company heading up the project, said that a phased approval has always been part of the plan.
In a letter dated Oct. 31, Deputy Regional Forester David E. Schmid announced that the final Record of Decision would only approve phase 1 of the Rock Creek Project, allowing the construction of a mine adit and an environmental evaluation of the site, which is located near Noxon.