A coalition of environmental groups and Indian tribes have sued the Montana Department of Environmental Quality. The suit revolves around efforts to mine for copper and silver under the Cabinet Mountains Wilderness near Libby by Hecla Mining Company and its Chief Executive Officer Phillips Baker who was also an executive of Pegasus Gold Incorporated which operated cyanide heap-leach gold mines in Montana. Since Pegasus filed for bankruptcy in 1998 cleanup of those mines has cost Montana taxpayers more than $80 million. Montana’s bad actor law prohibits corporations with outstanding reclamation obligations from starting new mining operations without first paying their cleanup costs.
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