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By John Riley, KRTV

Black Butte Copper Mine near White Sulphur Springs

HELENA — A judge has ruled that the Montana Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) unlawfully approved the construction of the Black Butte Copper Mine near White Sulphur Springs.

In June 2020, Montana Trout Unlimited, Montana Environmental Information Center, Earthworks, and American Rivers challenged the mine’s operating permit in court, alleging that DEQ failed to conduct a thorough environmental analysis and that the agency ignored over 12,000 public comments opposing the mine.

District Court Judge Katherine Bidegaray granted summary judgment on April 8, 2022, for the plaintiffs saying DEQ violated the Metal Mine Reclamation Act (MMRA) and the Montana Environmental Policy Act (MEPA) in failing to consider alternative methods proposed by DEQ’s own consultants.

The court’s decision is good news for the Smith River and the thousands of Montana families, like mine, that love this river,” said Bonnie Gestring, Northwest Program Director for Earthworks. “Too many mines in Montana have unnecessarily polluted our rivers and streams. We can’t let that happen to the headwaters of the Smith River. The court’s ruling echoes our grave concerns about the potential harm from the proposed mine.”

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