The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly of Initiative 186’s Failure

Cowgirl Jules

Connor Casne-Jones, Head Writer

Montana’s I-186 initiative was voted down November 6th, 2018.The initiative would have required mining companies to monitor as well as limit their environmental impact on the area they were mining in. Many Montana voters were worried that if the initiative passed, it would affect local mining jobs. They feared, it would become more expensive to mine in Montana, and mining companies would not come to Montana to mine. However, the initiative has failed, here’s The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly of initiative i-186’s failure.


The Good: It is undeniable that mining is an important part of Montana’s economy. With the failure of Montana’s initiative I-186, the future of Montana’s thriving mining industry is secure. In 2017, the Hard Rock mining industry generated 199.4 million dollars in revenue. In Montana, the mining industry is responsible for 12,304 jobs, that means a lot of money for montana. Additionally, the “stop I-186 initiative” claims that by 2025, 3530 jobs will be created and supported within the mining industry.


The Bad: Due to the failure of initiative I-186 new mines will not be obligated to have a plan in place to clean up after the mine if the company goes bankrupt. Under the new initiative, problems such as the Berkeley pit could never happen again in Montana. Many voters against initiative 186 claim the current regulations already protect our water. However, this is far from true. These regulations are not well enforced; under initiative 186 they would be. Five separate times in Montana, major mining companies have gone bankrupt: The Pegasus Gold, W. R. Grace, Asarco,Canyon Resources, and Atna mining companies all declared bankruptcy, and did not clean up the aftermath of the mines they had created. This will continue to be an issue in Montana with the failure of Initiative 186.


The Ugly: In Montana we value nature; it’s hard to find a Montanan against clean rivers and streams. However, when money comes into the picture, many a Montanan’s judgement becomes clouded. Our state has nearly 2,500 miles of polluted streams due to acid mine drainage, lead, mercury, and arsenic from abandoned mines. In many cases treating the polluted water can take dozens of years to treat fully. Currently there are 276 abandoned mines and Montana, if even one of these is polluting Montana rivers, that’s too many. The saddest story of all could potentially become the Smith River. The Smith is  world-renowned for its Brown and rainbow trout fisheries. It is truly an honor to be able to fish the Smith, Montanan’s are lucky enough to be able to fish the Smith whenever we please, weather permitting of course, but the Smith is under attack. The Black Butte Copper Mine is a proposed mine about 20 miles north of White Sulphur Springs. It would be a copper mine and could bring many jobs to Montana.The issue is, copper can be very dangerous to mine, mostly due to pollution. If Tintina Mining Company was to go bankrupt and not clean up the Black Butte copper mine it could spell disaster for the Smith River. Which leaves the question, what is more important to Montana, jobs or the greatest natural resource we have to offer?