To the editor:
The “bad actor” provision of Montana’s Metal Mine Reclamation Act was passed because there was a pattern of irresponsible behavior by some Montana mining company chief officers. This pattern often resulted in major pollution and bankruptcy filings, while the officers moved on to the next mine leaving the costs and impacts on taxpayers.
Hecla Mining Company choose Philips Baker as their CEO knowing he was the CFO of Pegasus Mining, which implicates him in the cleanup disaster now costing Montana taxpayers millions for perpetuity.
The communities near the Pegasus mines welcomed the promise of safe jobs and a safe environment. Pegasus asked to be trusted, that they would be good neighbors. Phillips Baker and his fellow Pegasus chief officers made a conscious decision to betray that trust.
The “bad actor” provision is intended to stop people like Baker from being repeat offenders by holding their future employers accountable. Is it an unfair law that requires mines to protect us from bad decisions made by bad actors who skip off while we pay the price?
The “bad actor” provision forces Hecla to choose between keeping Baker or paying the Pegasus cleanup costs. If Helca is sincere they will stop fighting the law and do the responsible thing.