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Company is all about the bottom line

 

April 12, 2018



Letter to the Editor,

So Rep. Steve Gunderson and forty-nine other Montana Legislators think the Hecla Mining Company and its president Phillips Baker shouldn’t be considered in violation of the Montana Metal Mine Regulation’s “Bad Actor” provision? By chance, these wouldn’t be some of the same 50 Montana legislators that felt it was OK for the Montana Health and Human Services Deptartment budget to be axed to the tune of $54 million dollars? That $54 million dollars went to serve some of Montana’s neediest residents for things like home heating plans (long winter isn’t it?) Healthy Montana Kids, Medicaid, vocational rehabilitation, substance abuse, suicide prevention, aging services, foster care and adoptions, Montanans with disabilities, WIC, food safety licensing, the Montana Veterans Home and a host of other services too numerous to mention.

Why are these legislators who have sworn to uphold the Montana Constitution its laws and regulations feel that it’s OK to support an out of state mining company over the interests and well-being of their constituents? Why is the law the law except when it strikes at the heart of the privileged or corporations?

Maybe Hecla bought a pig in the poke when it hired its president Phil Baker; who having served as Pegasus Mines chief financial officer and then president, has only cost the State of Montana $32 million in taxpayer dollars to date to service the three gold mines (Zortman Landusky, Basin Creek and Beal Mountain) they abandoned in the early 1990s. These three mines cost Montana taxpayers $4 million dollars a year in primarily groundwater pollution remediation, and will continue to do so in perpetuity until the problem no longer exists. In five and a half years that total will amount to $54 million dollars. Around the same amount cut from the Health and Human Services budget.

There’s no guilt by association involved here. If Hecla is such a reputable good actor in the mining industry, then why did they pay the U.S. government $268 million dollars to settle their pollution lawsuit in Idaho’s Silver Valley? For that matter, if Hecla under Phil Baker is such a reputable mining company, why have they refused to settle the 378-day strike by miners at their Lucky Friday mine in Mullan, Idaho? Hecla and Phil Baker may talk like they have the interests of our communities and our people, and they may be able to buy the allegiance of certain spokes people for their cause, but at heart they are all about the bottom line; a bottom line that lets them walk off with all the profits and leaves society to bear all the costs.

Cesar Hernandez, Polson

 

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