Breaking Down I-186 - KFBB.com News, Sports and Weather

Breaking Down I-186

Posted: Updated:
BILLINGS, Mont. -

Midterms are next week and one of the initiatives on the ballot is I-186. It will require the Department of Environmental Quality to deny a permit for any new hardrock mines in the treasure state. That is unless the reclamation plan provides clear and convincing evidence that the mine will not require perpetual treatment of water polluted by acid mine drainage or other contaminants.

The voter information pamphlet explained that the terms "perpetual treatment", "perpetual leaching", and "contaminants" within the initiative are not fully defined and would require further definition from the Montana Legislature or through Department of Environmental Quality rule-making.

How much will this initiative cost if passed?
For the first fiscal year, I-186 will cost $115,360.00.
It will increase to $118,767.00 by fiscal year 2021.

Those costs are associated with more staff for environmental review for mining permit applications and anticipated litigation.

According to the voter guide, there are multiple reasons that a permit would be denied. For example, the reclamation plan does not provide an acceptable method for accomplishment of reclamation as required.

Just like with any other law or bill, there are supporters and opposers. For I-186, supporters say it will prevent irresponsible mining companies from permanently polluting Montana rivers and streams with arsenic, mercury, lead and acid mine drainage, and from leaving taxpayers to pay the millions of dollars in cleanup costs.

On the other side, opposers say the initiative ignores Montana's already rigorous permitting system and is aimed at preventing future mining in Montana.

If I-186 is approved, it will go into effect after Election Day.

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