Montana Public Radio

mining

Study: Proposed Copper Mine Won't Harm Popular Montana River

Mar 11, 2019
Black Butte Copper Project, project facilities site plan.
Montana DEQ

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Officials said Monday that a copper mine proposed along a tributary of one of Montana's most popular recreational rivers would cause the river no harm, a conclusion that conservationists question and say will reinvigorate opposition to the plan.

Richest Hill episode 01: Get to know Butte, Montana, one of America's biggest Superfund sites and one of Montana’s most compelling places. Richest Hill is a new podcast about the past, present and future of Butte, America, "The Richest Hill on Earth."

EPA Regional Administrator Doug Benevento meeting with Anaconda residents on April 10, 2018
Nora Saks

An administrator with the Environmental Protection Agency who’s been praised by leaders in Butte and Anaconda has been promoted to become a senior advisor to the newly-confirmed head of the EPA.

Doug Benevento has been a frequent visitor to Montana, and helped negotiate final cleanup agreements for Butte and Anaconda. He’ll remain based in Denver, but with a broader portfolio than just the six states he’s overseen since 2017.

Congress Approves Major Public Lands, Conservation Bill

Feb 26, 2019
Emigrant Peak in Montana's Paradise Valley. The valley is north of Yellowstone Park near the location of two gold mines proposed in 2015.
Eric Whitney / Montana Public Radio

WASHINGTON (AP) — A wide-ranging bill that revives a popular conservation program, adds 1.3 million acres of new wilderness, expands several national parks and creates five new national monuments has won congressional approval.

The measure is the largest public lands bill approved by Congress in more than a decade. The House passed the bill Tuesday, 363-62, sending it to the White House for the president's signature.

Emigrant Peak in Montana's Paradise Valley. The valley is north of Yellowstone Park near the location of two gold mines proposed in 2015.
Eric Whitney / Montana Public Radio

A major package of public lands legislation has passed the U.S. Senate. It includes permanent reauthorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund, and the Yellowstone Gateway Protection Act.

"Today is — it’s one of the greatest days of my life. It’s amazing, and it really restores faith in the system, too," says Colin Davis, owner of Chico Hot Springs.

Butte Montana is famous. It was at one time the biggest city between Chicago and San Francisco. It’s in the heart of the Rocky Mountains, and sits at the headwaters of the mighty Columbia River, which flows all the way to the Pacific Ocean.

Butte boomed and thrived for almost a century because of one thing: copper.

Butte’s massive copper deposit was key to America’s success. The “Richest Hill on Earth” literally electrified the nation, and made the brass in bullets that won World Wars I and II. But in the 1980s, the last of the big mines shut down. Now, most of the riches are gone, and Butte is struggling.

Power plant at Colstrip, MT.
Beth Saboe / MontanaPBS

Lawmakers in Helena are starting to debate whether the state could borrow up to $500 million to buy the coal-fired power plant in Colstrip

The future of the plant is up in the air. The West Coast consumers who Colstrip sends most of its power to are pushing away from coal-powered electricity due to climate change concerns. Coal power is also becoming more expensive relative to electricity generated by natural gas and renewables.

Butte residents gathered at a Superfund health study meeting to discuss a range of health concerns with agency officials and health department staff. October 30, 2018.
Nora Saks / Montana Public Radio

A new analysis by the state health department says that the rate of new cancer diagnoses in Silver Bow County is about the same as the rest of Montana.

But at a council of commissioners meeting Wednesday night in Butte, state cancer epidemiologist Heather Zimmerman said that's not the case for cancer mortalities.

Coal. File photo.
Flickr user oatsy40 (CC-BY-2)


A federal judge in Great Falls will hear arguments on Thursday that could stop the Trump Administration from selling coal from federal lands. Four states, an Indian tribe and environmental groups are challenging the president overturning a ban on new coal leases put in place by the Obama administration. 

Groups File Lawsuit To Stop Eastern Idaho Gold Exploration

Nov 15, 2018
Centennial Mountains WSA
Bob Wick/ BLM California

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — The federal government violated environmental laws by approving a Canadian company's plan to search for gold in key wildlife habitat in eastern Idaho, two conservation groups say in a federal lawsuit.

The Idaho Conservation League and the Greater Yellowstone Coalition in the lawsuit filed Tuesday say the U.S. Forest Service needs to halt British Columbia-based Otis Gold Corporation's five-year mining exploration project in the Caribou-Targhee National Forest.

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