We filed a lawsuit today asking the state of Montana to take a harder look at a Canadian company's risky gold-mining project.
This suit, filed in Montana District Court this morning, is part of our work to keep risky mines away from Yellowstone. And we're not alone. Montanans of all political stripes are opposing fly-by-night mining companies that are planning two job-killing, risky gold mines at Yellowstone’s northern gateway. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is urging a mining ban here and is pledging money and staff to get it done. Sen. Jon Tester’s Yellowstone Gateway Protection Act is working its way through Congress to stop new mines here. Hundreds of local businesses in Paradise Valley have banded together to fight the projects. Thousands of Montanans told the state’s Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) that a Canadian company’s Emigrant Gulch project in particular would risk the healthy local economy and quality of life in Paradise Valley. We are all doing everything we can to stop these risky projects.
This is why our suit is shining a light on that Canadian company, Lucky Minerals, and its plans to explore for gold up Emigrant Gulch. Our suit asks Montana DEQ to take a harder look at what Lucky is really planning, and to protect the local economy. We’re asking Montana to make sure Lucky Minerals has a plan for keeping Emigrant Creek – and the Yellowstone River downstream – in good shape.
Montana has so far only looked at a small sliver – initial exploration plans – when green lighting Lucky’s permit this year. But Lucky’s website is promoting an Emigrant mine on par with some of the largest mines in the world. Lucky plans to explore and develop on six square miles here – you could fit the entire town of Livingston in that area. And Lucky talks about sifting through 1 to 2 billion tons of rock to get to their gold. If we take that at face value, what it would mean for the Valley is stunning: Roughly 2,700 trucks every day driving up Highway 89 in the middle of Paradise Valley. These plans paint a stark picture for local business owners and residents. Montana needs to look at that same picture.
We also ask Montana to consider how this Canadian company’s project will risk Montana businesses and Montana jobs. Park County’s economy is a healthy economy. The number of jobs in the information-and-ideas economy put Park County in the top 6 percent of non-metro counties nationwide. Entrepreneurs are responsible for nearly 40 percent of all jobs in the county. And recreation like fishing brings Park County $70 million each year. That’s $4,400 for every man, woman and child in the county. We can’t risk all of this to help a foreign mining company gamble with Paradise Valley.
Finally, we’re asking Montana to safeguard our water. Lucky Minerals has no plan for when their drills tap into Emigrant’s abundant groundwater and spring a leak. We want the state to require Lucky to create a clear plan that will work. Lucky needs to be on the hook for protecting Emigrant Creek and the Yellowstone River downstream, because we simply can’t risk our clean water.
Public opinion on this proposal is clear: From Emigrant locals all the way up to the Secretary of the Interior, everyone agrees that Yellowstone is more valuable than gold. If Montana plans to move forward with permitting Lucky's project, the state needs to be crystal clear about what Lucky Minerals is up to, and needs to carefully consider how Lucky's risky, industrial-scale project will affect Yellowstone's gateway and all businesses in Park County. Local jobs, the way of life, and our precious water are all depending on it.
-- Caroline Byrd, Executive Director