Montana Public Radio

mining

A coal mining company that works in Montana filed a request in May for a judicial review of a recently changed rule for power plant air emissions standards. A Montana environmental group filed a motion to intervene this past week.

Recently, we let the cat out of the bag and told you that Butte’s Superfund parties reached a very big deal; one that will clean up the Mining City forever. That sounds like good news, and I hope it is. But as someone who lives right in the heart of a Superfund megasite, lately I’ve been experiencing some cognitive dissonance.

During his reign, President Trump has radically transformed the Environmental Protection Agency. I haven’t known how to square the EPA's cheerleading on Superfund with the Trump Administration’s overall track record on the environment, and whether all the action we’re seeing in Butte, Montana is the Superfund exception, or the rule.

USDA Sec. Sonny Perdue (center) in Missoula to announce new USFS priorities June 12, 2020. Behind him: Chuck Roady, GM of F.H. Stoltze, Rep. Gianforte, USDA Undersecretary James Hubbard, Ravalli County Commissioner Greg Chilcott, RMEF Pres. Kyle Weaver
Edward O'Brien / Montana Public Radio

*UPDATED 06/13 

The U.S. Agriculture Secretary visited Missoula Friday to announce a blueprint to prioritize work for the U.S Forest Service.

Supporters say it will modernize the agency and cut unnecessary red tape. Opponents, however, counter it will undermine the nation’s laws aimed at protecting the environment.

Black Butte Copper Project, project facilities site plan.
Montana DEQ

Conservation groups want a Montana court to cancel the approval of the long-disputed Black Butte copper mine, saying it would pollute a tributary of the Smith River, one of the state's most popular recreational rivers.

The moratorium on major new coal leases on federal land that the Obama administration announced today, is either long-overdue or the latest offensive in the ongoing war on coal. That depends on whom you ask.
BLM

A judge threw out a lawsuit Friday from a coalition of states, environmental groups and American Indians seeking to revive an Obama-era moratorium against U.S. government coal sales on public lands in the West.

U.S. District Judge Brian Morris said President Donald Trump's administration had fixed its initial failure to consider the environmental impacts of ending the moratorium.

The state of Montana released its draft environmental assessment for a waste disposal facility expansion at a hardrock mine in south central Montana and now seeks public comment.


A federal judge in Montana heard arguments May 13 in a case where environmental advocacy groups say coal leasing under the Trump Administration breaks federal law.

After reporting on Superfund for several years, it’s obvious to me that everyone here wants the best possible cleanup for their town. And, there are very different definitions of what that means.

A lot of folks in Butte are fired up about bringing a stretch of the long-dead Silver Bow Creek back to life. And on the surface, I get it. Superfund is huge and complicated, full of thousands of pages of technical documents, and abstract legal requirements like water quality standards. Whereas a beautiful free flowing stream? That’s something tangible, easy to get jazzed up about.

Anaconda smelter stack as seen in 2007.
(PD)

Anaconda residents are coming to grips with an agreement recently released to the public that will revamp the Superfund cleanup in the area. The public had their first chance to weigh-in on the proposed deal at  meeting this week.

Butte Superfund Coordinator Jon Sesso speaks during the event unveiling EPA's final cleanup plan for Butte, Feb. 13, 2020.
Nick Mott / Montana Public Radio

The Environmental Protection Agency last week announced a final Superfund deal for Butte, detailing a roadmap they say will permanently clean up one of the most intractable Superfund sites in the country.

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