Bad Actor Rule Must be Enforced

by Jim Jensen

In the aftermath of the Pegasus Gold cyanide heap leach disaster, the Montana Legislature passed a far reaching and forward thinking addition to the State law that governs all metal mining activities in Montana. It is called the “Bad Actor” law, and bans any company, manager, or other executive who left the state with a mess to clean up from getting another mining permit until the taxpayers have been repaid for the work, and at 6% interest, no less.

Well, a guy named Phillips. S. Baker was the Chief Financial Officer of Pegasus and all of its subsidiaries (Pegasus Gold, Beal Mountain, Basin Creek, Zortman Mining and Landusky Mining), which left taxpayers to clean up after they went bankrupt and scurried back to Canada.

Now, Baker is the President and CEO of Hecla Mining of Coeur d’ Alene, Idaho. It is the company that recently bought the Rock Creek and Montanore mining projects — both of which propose to mine beneath the Cabinet Mountains Wilderness.

So, did DEQ notify Hecla that it is barred from getting a permit in Montana so long as Phil Baker is associated with the company? Well, here is a surprise, no they did not. Instead they granted Montanore a permit to begin mining.

So, on Monday, October 23, Earthjustice, MEIC, Earthworks, Save Our Cabinets, and the Clark Fork Coalition notified DEQ of our intent to sue the agency to compel it to enforce the “Bad Actor” law.

I’m anxious to see how DEQ tries to get out of this one.