I-186 will hurt Montana’s economy

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Out-of-state environmental groups are using litigation as a tool to stop future mining in our state and I-186 does nothing but make it easier for them to do just that.

What these misleading, out-of-state activists ignore is the fact that Montana has some of the strictest environmental protections in the world when it comes to permitting new mines. Permits approved in Montana have made it through years of review and scrutiny, but environmental activists don’t want to acknowledge that Montana’s existing regulatory structure is successful. Instead they continue to look for new ways to prevent natural resource development — and Montana taxpayers are the ones who end up footing the bill.

According to the University of Montana’s Bureau of Business and Economic Research (BBER), mining in Montana generates $199.4 million in state and local revenues each year. These funds are essential to Montana’s economy, schools and emergency services. I-186 would significantly impact the future of Montana’s tax base by preventing future mines and the tax revenue they would generate.

Proposed mining projects in Montana could generate $35 million in new, additional state tax revenue by 2025, according to the BBER’s recent mining study. If I-186 is passed, Montana would lose a valuable source of tax revenue and economic activity in our state.

With growing budget concerns, Montana cannot afford I-186. Vote no on I-186 to protect Montana’s economic future.

Duane Mitchell is a Richland County commissioner and resident of Sidney.

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