After reading David Brooks’ recent editorial, one thing is clear as a mountain stream: Propaganda will be the chosen vehicle in which Brooks and his supporters deliver Initiative 186 (I-186) to Montana in November. I suppose propaganda is expected in the support or opposition of any ballot initiative. However, the citizens of Montana deserve to be informed with a little more respectful and honest dialogue. I offer the following for consideration, provided from my personal and professional context:
• As an environmental scientist and educator, I can tell you it is true that mines like the Berkeley Pit, the Mike Horse near Lincoln and the few Pegasus legacy mines are environmental messes costing millions each year. It’s true that thousands of smaller-scale abandoned mines will require cleanup. It is also true that none of these former mines would be possible under Montana’s existing regulations and mindsets. It is true that these big mines were under bonded or not bonded at all. The money spent on cleanup at places like Beal Mountain and Zortman-Landusky primarily comes from taxes paid by mining and petroleum — not Montana citizens. Today’s bonding is much improved and attentive to changes in standards and cleanup costs. Likewise, Montana mining has proactively added new regulations to further insure environmental responsibility.