Pols Just Say 'No' to Voters in Montana
Times may have changed in Montana, with the voters choosing to ban the cyanide
heap leach gold mining process, but the politicians and the Montana Mining
Association like to harken back to the good old days, when the residents
did what they were told.
On the very day that I-137, the citizens' initiative to ban the cyanide
mining process, passed by a margin of over 22,000 votes, the Montana Mining
Association filed suit in state and federal courts to overturn the new law.
The Association filed the suits on behalf of two mining companies, claiming
that the new law represented "takings" legislation. The Association
was emboldened by a victory, just two weeks before, in toppling another
citizen's initiative, I-125, which limited the amount of money that a for-profit
corporation could pour into a campaign to support or oppose citizen's initiatives.
I-125 was overturned on the grounds that it placed unconstitutional limits
on a corporation's right to free speech
The miners are certain that, with I-125 no longer binding their pursestrings,
they can overturn the new ban.
Leading politicians were quick to tip their hands after the votes were counted
and the cyanide ban became reality. Lt. Gov. Judy Martz, addressing the
Northwest Mining Associations in Spokane, said that both she and Gov. Marc
Racicot were dedicated to overturning the law. Racicot's press secretary
later said that this was a mistake, and that "the governor's office
respects the vote." Republican Senator Chuck Swysgood, of Dillon, had
no such worries. "I'm tired of seeing the good paying jobs kicked out
the door because of the actions of a few," he told the Helena Independent
Record. He added that the only way to address the issue was "through
the legislative process."
Bonnie Gestring, of the Montana Environmental Information Center, said of
Swysgood, "As a Montana legislator, he should respect the people's
A Federal Judge in Helena has rejected the first pleas of the Mining Association
to block enforcement of the cyanide ban.
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