Montana’s mining statutes suffice as-is

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As a legislator that has spent his tenure in the legislature working on natural resource policies, I have grave concerns with the anti-mining ballot initiative Trout Unlimited is trying to qualify for November.

Our permitting processes have been radically changed in the past 20 years. We have reformed our bonding requirements, re-written our reclamation statutes and have adopted the strongest tailings design standards in the world.

These reforms represent thoughtful and deliberative actions taken to safeguard our environment while still allowing extraction industries to exist in Montana. While there is always room for improvement, making changes to what has become an incredibly complex and technical permitting process requires tactful precision.

The sponsors of this initiative are attempting to sell a message that they want clean water, canít get action from policy makers, and are trying to keep taxpayers from paying for perpetual water treatment. This couldnít be further from the truth. What they really desire is never-ending litigation in our judicial branch. Itís purposefully written with ambiguous and undefined terms to allow obstructionist lawsuits to end mining in Montana.

Understanding the Treasure State and what we have and can provide to our nation is critical as every single thing we use and need to survive is either grown or mined. We must resist the false narrative from groups like Trout Unlimited who portray a much needed and responsible industry like mining as evil.

Rep. Kerry White (HD 64) is chair of the House Natural Resource Committee and a resident of Bozeman.

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