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Ryan Zinke Owes Montanans An Apology for This Stunt (Video)

Found this information from the Montana Environmental Information Center:

A video just leaked of Secretary Ryan Zinke apologizing to Phillips S. Baker, Jr., the President and CEO of Hecla mining. Last week, the Montana Department of Environmental Quality notified Hecla and Baker that they are in violation of Montana’s “bad actor” provision, which targets people and companies that default on their reclamation obligations, due to Pegasus Gold declaring bankruptcy and leaving Montanans with toxic sites that required major remediation, and some of which will require perpetual water treatment.

Secretary Zinke says it was a joke, but leaving Montana taxpayers with tens of $$ millions of dollars in taxpayer costs is not funny.

Here is the leaked video:

I covered that the State of Montana recently put on hold this mine for violation of the ‘bad actor’ provisions of Montana law that prohibit mining companies from abandoning polluted mines that force taxpayers to foot the bill for cleanup.

The Montana Department of Environmental Quality recently notified Hecla Mining Company and its CEO, Phillips S. Baker, Jr., that they are in violation of the “bad actor” provision under the State’s mining laws. This decision by DEQ is a huge victory for Montanans, who frequently shoulder the financial burden of mine reclamation, cleanup, and perpetual treatment of water. It also suspends the permitting process, temporarily, for the Montanore and Rock Creek mines, which threaten the Cabinet Mountain Wilderness and bull trout and grizzly bears that reside there.

How did DEQ reach this decision?

Hecla CEO Phillips S. Baker served as a top official for Pegasus Gold when it declared bankruptcy in 1998. Pegasus left behind a toxic mess of contaminated soils and water at the company’s Zortman-Landustky, Beal Mountain, and Basin Creek gold mines.

When Pegasus defaulted on its reclamation obligations, the State of Montana was forced to take over responsibility for tens of millions of dollars in unpaid reclamation costs. As of January 2017, the Montana taxpayers have dolled out more than $32 million for reclamation and water treatment at Zortman-Landusky alone, where acid mine drainage from Pegasus Gold’s operations has despoiled the land, water, and sacred sites of the Fort Belknap Gros Ventre and Assiniboine Tribes, whose reservation borders the mine site.

Late last year, DEQ was alerted that Baker and his new company Hecla were disqualified from mining under the “bad actor” provisions of the Metal Mine Reclamation Act unless and until they repay the state, with interest, for the costs of reclaiming their environmental disasters.

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