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All Revett needs to do to keep mine open is obey the law

| February 13, 2007 11:00 PM

To the Editor:

In this country if you believe that a law is unjust, you are free to lobby your elected representatives to change it.

In this state, if you can get enough people to sign a petition, you can put a referendum on the ballot to change a state law even without the cooperation of elected representatives.

If you believe a law is in conflict with a more specific or more basic law, such as the Constitution, you can challenge it in court. Yet until and unless you have successfully done one of these things, the law stands; you must obey it or suffer the consequences.

Montana law requires a mining company to have an approved reclamation plan for its operating permit to be valid. The reasoning behind this law is that Montana taxpayers have been stuck with costs of many millions of dollars to fix or at least mitigate water quality and other problems left behind by defunct mining operations.

So, if you don't have a plan to clean it up, and you haven't posted a bond to pay for the plan, you can't make the mess.

In October 1999, the Department of Environmental Quality notified ASARCO that its reclamation plan was inadequate and a new one was required. Sterling/Revett knew this when it bought the Troy mine in December of that year.

Over six years later, nothing has been done. Patient efforts to persuade DEQ to rectify the situation in a timely manner have proved fruitless. The Cabinet Resource Group has asked the court to see that the law is enforced.

In a libelous letter to this paper on Feb. 2, Bill Orchow of Revett accused CRG of filing the lawsuit to throw 170 people out of work. The veracity of this asinine statement is on par with his claim that there has never been any impact to ground or surface water from the mine.

As of when ASARCO closed down, there were over 30 incidents of toxicity problems or spills noted in memos and letters to state and federal agencies, most spectacularly the 100,000 gallons of tailings dumped into Lake Creek in June 1984.

CRG has no quarrel with miners or with mining per se. Some of our members work at the mine, or are otherwise connected to the mining industry.

We are, however, adamant in the belief that clean water and our health are more valuable than gold or silver and will do whatever we can to ensure that laws protecting water are adhered to.

Any threat to 170 people's livelihoods is to be found in Revett's arrogant and obstinate refusal to do what is required of it. All it will take to make sure the mine is not closed down is for Revett to obey the law.

Bill Martin

President,

Cabinet Resource Group