Local perspectives on the Hecla Bad Actor ruling


On April 11, you printed a letter that state representative Steve Gunderson, with a number of co-signers, sent to the governor and the director of the MT Department of environmental quality, berating them for citing Phillips Baker, C.E.D. of Helca, as being in violation of the “bad actor” provision of the MT Mine reclamation act. Mr. Baker was formerly chief financial officer of Pegasus Mining, which in 1998 went bankrupt, sticking Montana tax payers with a bill of over $30 million in clean up costs an amount that will increase by about $4 million each year, in perpetuity.
Mr. Gunderson argued that Mr. Baker was not involved in making decisions at Pegasus. Maybe not, but if C.E.O has no part in deciding how many money is or is not spent, then what does he do, take out the trash?
It was reasonable for Mr. Gunderson to question whether the law is being properly applied, but after doing so, the letter deteriorated into vitriolic rant.
He claimed the administration “…is parroting out of state environmental groups misleading narrative..” it’s “.. another thinly veiled ploy of obstructionist groups that desire nothing more than to kill Montana’s economy..” which “.. has deteriorated at the hands of the radical environmentalist for far to long.”
What’s been going on for far too long is kind of hate mongering spew. As always, the evil “outside special interest groups” are not ( nor can they be) identified. Mr. Gunderson vile rhetoric is a gratuitous smear on any and all that can be identified as – that dirty word- environmentalist.
The bad actors law is not the creation of “radical outside environmental obstructionists” It was enacted by the Montana legislature ( dominated by Mr.Gundersons Republican Part) as direct response the the Pegasus fiasco. If it is being mis-applied to Mr. Baker, then the permitting process will proceed. If it is applicable, then Helca can get new C.E.D., and the permitting process can proceed. This is not a mine/no mine situation. Let the law take it’s course.
Submitted by Bill Marten, Libby, Mont.

As a Lincoln County resident, I am sorely disappointed with the Montana Department of Environmental Quality and Governor’s Office decision to label Phil Baker, CEO of Hecla Mining, a bad actor.
The Rock Creek and Montanore mines are crucial to Lincoln County’s future. Mining provides family wage jobs that few other industries can match. While I am concerned about the environment, Hecla Mining has a strong and consistent record of being accountable for cleaning up after themselves and are currently paying for the reclamation of the old Troy Mine. This speaks for itself; Hecla cares about the environment and adheres to their strong and consistent reputation of environmental compliance.
Submitted by Amber Carvey, Libby, Mont.

As a former Lincoln County Commissioner that spent years advocating for both the Rock Creek and Montanore proposals, I thought I had seen everything that could be thrown at these projects to delay their development. Seems I hadn’t.
We now have our own state government attempting to derail these mines by determining that Hecla Mining is somehow a bad actor. It really boggles the mind to understand how a company that has never operated a mine in Montana can be held accountable for another company’s failure.
The decision of our state’s executive to do this is an epic example of just how little the communities of northwest Montana are thought of. Our rural natural resource based economies have been crushed by groups and individuals that have nothing but disgust for our very existence in this region and it seems our own government is now corroborating with the obstructionism.
Submitted by Rita Windom, Libby, Mont.

The environmental policy board which is made up of 3 greenies who do all the dirty work of stopping mining, for earth first and other self engendered environmental groups if out Montana legislature which is controlled by republicans would do something in all the years they have had control, like getting rid of this enviro policy board which has for years done nothing but obstruct coal mines and all other mines in the state. this board has cost the state millions of dollars in taxes. Also thousands of good paying jobs, how long must the people of Montana put up with these Bad Actors, Pegasus not at fault, the state of Montana was, Pegasus put up the required bond for reclamation. The state should have asked for a bigger bond, but as usual they did not know what they were doing. Mr. Baker of Hecla was an executive for Pegasus Gold which mined at Zortman Landusk Basin creek area in MT. Mr. Baker is singled out by Tom Livers. He is deplorable by The Montana Environmental Policy Board. He should fit in with Executive of Earth first or The Sierra Club Greens, the shoes would fit him a lot better. Other countries in the world, would give anything to have two world class ore bodies to mine in their backyard, Canada gives money to help get these mines started, from $50,000 to $100,000 Spain a few years back gave a $100,00 to help a company to open Copper Mine. The Montenore and Rock Curl together would hire around 700 workers with good paying jobs and the whole area, the schools and towns Libby and Troy, and even Eureka with country tax help would benefit.
Submitted by Harvey H. Fredericks, Libby, Mont.

As owners of a business that creates over $10,000,000 in gross annual sales we have long awaited the construction and operation of either the proposed Rock Creek or Montanore mines in northwest Montana. We have had a front row seat to the endless barrage of obstacles put in their path for 30 years by environmental extremists.
With both projects recently acquired by Hecla Mining, and the end of the permitting saga within sight, we now have our own state government attempting to block what is the brightest spot on our economic horizon.
We’re not bureaucratic lawyers or politicians looking for an opportunity to make good on campaign contributions. We are simply Americans, hard working businessmen living in a community that desperately needs steady, family wage jobs that these mines will create . We also are people who care that these mines are developed right and environmental impacts are minimized.
But to have our state conclude that Hecla, a 127 year old mining company that has never owned or operated a mine in our state, is a “Bad Actor” is ridiculous. It’s also an oxymoron. Open for business Governor Bullock? We think not. You are a detriment to our economy!
Submitted by Terry L Andreessen and Terry R Andreessen, Timberline Auto Center, Libby, Montana