Montana Supreme Court Hears Arguments Over Gold Mining Near Yellowstone
On Wednesday, the Montana Supreme Court heard oral arguments on Park County Envtl. Council v. Montana Dep’t of Envtl. Quality. Lucky Minerals Inc. is appealing the rejection of its permit to conduct exploratory mining outside Yellowstone National Park.
Earlier, the Montana district court rejected Lucky Minerals’ permit to explore for gold in Emigrant Gulch. Earthjustice attorney Jenny Harbine argued on behalf of Greater Yellowstone Coalition and Park Country Environmental Council.
“This case is about a proposal by a Canadian mining company to explore for gold in Emigrant Gulch in an area of Montana that is just north of Yellowstone National Park and on the border of the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness,” Harbine said. “The questions the court was addressing today were fundamentally about when the state authorized that drilling to occur. It really considered all of the environmental harm that drilling would unleash.”
Harbine is asking the court to uphold the ruling of the Montana District Court.
“We are arguing that the authorization for Lucky Minerals to unleash environmental harm through exploratory drilling in Emigrant Gulch must be set aside until the state does a rational analysis of that harm and evaluates measures that could avoid that harm,” Harbine said.
According to Harbine, this area has many different values that could be jeopardized by any exploratory drilling.
“This area in Park County Montana is treasure for it’s natural values, not just it’s values to wildlife, but it’s value to the local economy, which is largely based on an intact ecosystem that draw tourists from around the state and around the world,” Harbine said. “The local population in Park County has opposed any industrialization through mineral exploration in Emigrant Gulch.”
The Montana District Court ruling invalidated Lucky Minerals’ exploration license and established that it would violate the public’s environmental and public participation rights under Montana’s Constitution.