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Mining in the Cabinet Mountains

 
  

Project: The Bush administration's environmental record

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May 13, 2003

       The US Fish and Wildlife Service revises a Clinton-era judgment which had concluded that the proposed construction and operation of two mines in the Cabinet Mountains of Montana would likely have an adverse impact on the local population of grizzly bears. In January 2002, twelve months after the Bush administration came into office, the mining companies filed a lawsuit protesting this judgment. The US Fish and Wildlife Service agreed to reconsider the case reasoning that it needed to “make sure that it [had been] based on the best available science.” Some time after the decision was made to reconsider the case, one of the mining companies abandoned its permit. The Fish and Wildlife Service, in its new judgment, concludes that the operation of one mine would not threaten the area's grizzly bears. [Fish and Wild Service, 5/13/2003; Earth Justice, 1/29/2002; Missoulian, 5/14/2003] The proposed Rock Creek Mine, a copper and silver mine, would be the first large-scale mining operation to take place in a wilderness area. It would remove up to 10,000 tons of materials each day for up to 35 years. Critics argue that traffic brought by the mine and its accompanying roads would harm the local populations of grizzlies and bull trout and contaminate the surrounding watershed. [Fish and Wild Service, 5/13/2003; The Washington Post, 5/18/2003; Missoulian, 5/14/2003; Clark Fork Coalition website] The company that would operate the mine, Sterling Corporation, and its executives have a poor business and environmental record. [Mattera and Khan, 1/2003; Clark Fork Coalition website]
People and organizations involved: Bush administration, US Fish and Wildlife Service, Sterling Corporation
          


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