It was reported last week that the Montana Department of Environmental Quality in early July issued a $516,567 penalty against Luke Ployhar and Owen Voight and their mining companies for alleged illegal exploration at the Zortman-Landusky Reclamation Area in Northcentral Montana.
The DEQ described the alleged activity as a “violation of major gravity that has compromised the reclamation work at the site and represents a risk of acid rock drainage.”
This is exactly why Gary Buchanan and others led the fight to pass Initiative 137 which prohibits cyanide heap-leach mining in Montana and which Matt Rosendale voted to overturn while serving in the Montana House.
Rep. Matt Rosendale’s “Montana Values”
Montana’s Republican U.S. Rep. Matt Rosendale likes to tell his constituents how he protects “Montana Values.”
However, Mr. Rosendale never reminds them that he voted to eliminate Montana’s constitutional “right to a clean and healthful environment” or how he voted to allow gold and silver miners to use cyanide heap-leach recovery as opposed to Initiative 137 which banned the practice in 1998.
Gary Buchanan was one of three state-wide leaders to get I-137 on the ballot and passed into law.
“I hope Matt is done attacking the Montana Constitution,” Buchanan said this week. “This reminds us of his previous attack on a clean and healthful environment.”
“Montana has one of the best constitutions in America. Leave it alone.” Buchanan said. “I will oppose any attack on Montana’s Constitution.”
Independent Gary Buchanan, a Billings businessman, is running to remove Mr, Rosendale from the U.S. House. Mr. Buchanan made the General Election ballot on Nov. 8 by collecting more than 13,000 valid signatures from registered voters in Montana House District 2, which covers Central and Eastern Montana counties. He needed a minimum of 8,722 by May 31. A Democrat and a Libertarian are also challenging Mr. Rosendale, creating a four-way race for the seat.
During his only term in the Montana House in 2011, Mr. Rosendale voted in favor of HB 292, which was a constitutional referendum to remove the “clean and healthful environment” clause from the 1972 Constitution. To make such a change requires a two-thirds vote in favor by the 150 members of the Montana Legislature. The measure failed, receiving 89 yes votes out of 100 needed to put the change on the ballot for Montana voters to accept or reject.
Mr. Rosendale also voted in favor of SB 306 which would have overturned the citizen decision to pass I-137. The legislation passed both chambers of the Montana Legislature, but was vetoed with a branding iron by then Gov. Brian Schweitzer, a Democrat.
“Montanans have made their feelings clear about having clean water,” Buchanan said. Initiative 137 was a direct result of the cyanide water pollution from a heap-leach gold mining operation at Zortman in north-central Montana in Phillips County.
The mine’s owner, Pegasus, shut it down in 1997 and then went bankrupt in 1998. Precipitation run-off had polluted nearby streams and rivers. Since that time, federal and state taxpayers have coughed up $83 million to control the run-off and prevent further poisoning of the surrounding water sources.
“That cost is for only one site,” noted Buchanan, who emphasized he is not opposed to mining. “What we need is responsible mining – like Stillwater – not the kind that leaves irreparable damage.”
Stillwater Mining Co. produces platinum/palladium at mines near Nye and Big Timber.