Mining is prohibited at the gateway to Yellowstone National Park.
The Montana Supreme Court has ruled that Lucky Minerals, a Canadian company, cannot search for gold in Paradise Valley’s mountains. This is the northern entrance to the famous national park.
This victory was long-awaited by the Park County Environmental Council, co-plaintiff Greater Yellowstone Coalition, and their legal representatives Earthjustice. Here’s a quick timeline of important events.
- 2011: Amendments to the Montana Environmental Policy Act (MEPA), were made to prevent district judges from stopping state agencies from approving projects while new environmental reviews were being performed.
- 2017: Environmental groups sued Montana’s Department of Environmental Quality after it approved a drilling permit to Lucky Minerals for the prospecting of gold near Emigrant Peak in northern Yellowstone.
- 2018: A Park County District Court judge ruled for the plaintiffs. He said that the permit was illegal due to the DEQ not having fully considered the environmental effects of the project. The 2011 amendment did not prevent exploratory drilling from being allowed to proceed. The conservation groups asked the judge to declare the 2011 amendment unconstitutional.
- 2019: The district judge ruled for the conservation groups, and the amendment was thrown out.
- 2020: After an appeal by the DEQ, the company, and the Montana Supreme Court, the court affirmed that the amendment was invalid.
Earthjustice stated that Lucky Minerals’ mining and exploration plans would pollute Yellowstone River with toxic metals and acid runoff; disrupt essential habitats for species such as grizzly bears, wolverines, and lynx; and cause harm to the local community by disrupting recreation areas, and ruining views from Emigrant Peak in Yellowstone National Park.
According to the Bozeman Daily Chron, the Supreme Court upheld the District Court decision that the project needed an updated environmental review by the DEQ. It acknowledged that the original review failed to consider wildlife impacts or create a plan for capturing polluted waters during drilling.
It disagreed with the assertion that the original approval didn’t adequately consider the impact of the project on water quality and nearby public lands.
KD Feeback, Lucky Minerals’ lawyer, declined to comment but said that the MEPA Amendment ruling would be disappointing for the timber and mining industries.
Lucky Minerals will need to submit a new proposal if it wants to continue its mining plans. Jenny Harbine, an Earthjustice attorney, believes the gig is over.
[h/t]: Eco Watch
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