Toxic pollution from mines – including arsenic, lead and mercury – contaminates our rivers, lakes and streams while threatening public health through our drinking water. When mining companies file for bankruptcy and leave their toxic waste behind, Montana taxpayers get stuck with clean-up costs.
I-186 will ensure that new mines in Montana operate responsibly. It will hold mining companies accountable and no longer allow them to leave behind a toxic mess requiring perpetual treatment of water contaminated by acid mine drainage and heavy metals.
Bad Actors’ Toxic Legacy Is Costing Taxpayers Millions:
Montana has 3,500 abandoned mines, more than 200 of which are known to be discharging contaminants and polluting our clean water. Our state has nearly 2,500 miles of streams polluted by acid mine drainage, lead, arsenic, and mercury from abandoned mines.
But it's not just historic mine waste. Taxpayers are shelling out millions each year to clean up the messes left behind from modern irresponsible mining practices.
Montanans left with the mess
Water pollution, from irresponsible mining practices both historic and modern, costs Montana taxpayers millions of dollars each year. There have been five major mining company bankruptcies in Montana - Pegasus Gold, W.R. Grace, Asarco, Canyon Resources and Atna. In every case, the reclamation bonds were insufficient to cover the full cost of clean-up and long-term water treatment.
Perpetual Pollution – A Persistent Threat to Our Water
- Toxic pollution from mines poses a threat to our water and public health due to contaminants such as arsenic, mercury & lead.
- Acid mine drainage from mines contaminates drinking water and damages fisheries.
- Acid mine drainage requires treatment for generations.
There's a better way forward
I-186 is about being accountable to taxpayers and protecting vital resources like clean water for future generations.
This initiative, which only applies to new mines, would not cost a single job. Companies are already mining without leaving a legacy of destruction right here in Montana. It is possible.
Which leads us to the other myth perpetuated by the mining industry, mainly that current regulations already protect our water.
That is false.
Currently, newly proposed mines are supposed to prevent pollution from entering Montana’s waterways. Unfortunately, due to insufficient enforcement and lax legal standards, this hasn’t happened. Mines such as Zortman-Landusky and Beal Mountain have become permanent sources of pollution, the companies have gone bankrupt, and taxpayers have spent millions of dollars treating contaminated mine water (and will do so forever).