Clean Water Has Never Hurt the Economy

I-186 is about the future

By Steven Zwisler

I am writing to advocate for the passage of I-186, the initiative that would permit hard rock mining only if perpetual treatment of mining acid and contaminated water is not required. The initiative applies to future permit requests only. It would make mining companies accountable and disrupt the cycles of boom, bust, and run that constitute the history of mining in Montana. The current problems in the Little Rockies and Butte demonstrate this history.

There is a contrived fear that I-186 would eliminate mining in the future as well as the jobs mining provides. However, similar laws in Maine, Michigan, and New Mexico have not eliminated mining and its attendant jobs. What it would do is perpetuate clean water for agriculture, recreation, and riverine environments. Clean water has never hurt the economy.

Requiring multinational corporations to be responsible for their actions is a simple extension of personal responsibility, especially since our Supreme Court has declared that corporations are people. Many of the multinationals that currently operate in Montana promote their technological innovation and environmental stewardship. So let Montana voters take them at their word and have them apply innovation and stewardship to perpetuating clean water. After all, Hecla Mining with mines in the U. S., Canada, and Mexico reported sales of $147.3 million in the second quarter of 2018 alone. Sibayne/Stillwater Mining reported a 47 percent increase of revenues from mines in South Africa, the U.S., and Argentina in 2017. The financial resources are available to comply with I-186 if these and other multinationals want to mine in Montana in the future.

I-186 is about the future. Allow I-186 to close a prominent weakness in Montana’s mining laws. Maybe you will even save your grandchildren from an unnecessary tax burden and assure them the clean and healthy environment that our state constitution mandates.

Steven Zwisler