In 2006, the Montana Environmental Information Center (MEIC), Earth Justice and other extreme and litigious activist groups brought forward the concept of I-186 to the Board of Environmental Review (BER), a board of senior environmental professionals appointed by a Democrat governor, to become state rules for permitting mines in Montana. After exhaustive hearings and testimony from experts, the BER found the concept of I-186 deficient and rejected the idea and did not adopt it in rule making.
In 2015, the same extreme and litigious activist groups, this time joined by a radical fringe of Trout Unlimited, brought forward the concept of I-186 to the Legislature. Again, after exhaustive hearings and testimony our elected officials decided the concept of I-186 was not a responsible manner to regulate mining in Montana. This same legislature, with the exception of one vote, unanimously passed other regulations on mining that were concisely defined, developed by experts and well thought through.
I-186 is a third attempt to pass ambiguous language into law that a Democrat-dominated BER rejected and a Republican-dominated Legislature rejected. These bodies are elected by us or appointed by people that we elected to make informed and intelligent decisions on our behalf because we don’t have time to educate ourselves on every issue. Having failed to convince informed elected and appointed officials, the supporters of I-186 have now brought their cause to the voters to be decided by 30-second sound bites appealing to our emotions. It is very difficult to educate an electorate through a ballot initiative campaign consisting of commercials, editorials and mailers and provide them with all of the information and facts that were provided to the BER and the Legislature.
Seriously, everyone that lives in Montana wants clean water and responsible resource development including the members of the Legislature, the BER and over 12,000 families employed in Montana’s mining industry. However, after the people that we have delegated to make these types of decisions on our behalf have found the concept of I-186 lacking and irresponsible, why would anyone vote yes for I-186?
Finally, when extreme serial litigants propose vague, ambiguous and poorly defined laws, why would anyone believe that it has any other purpose than to litigate resource development in Montana into oblivion?
Put a stop to this blatant end-a-round of the facts and the people we elect to understand them. Vote no on I-186.
Mark Thompson is president of the Montana Mining Association and vice president of environmental affairs for Montana Resources, LLP.