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Conservation groups have been forced to go to court to get public records related to the Gov. Greg Gianforte administration’s decision to drop enforcement action against a mining executive whose former company has saddled Montana taxpayers with tens of millions of dollars in cleanup costs.

Since November, the Montana Environmental Information Center and Earthworks has been seeking records on an administration decision to drop legal claims against Phillips Baker Jr. and his firm, Hecla Mining Co.

Baker and Hecla have been pursuing a pair of mines in the Cabinet Mountains in Northwest Montana. Baker was chief financial officer for Pegasus Gold when it went bankrupt in 1998 leaving behind a nightmarish moonscape of a wasteland at the Zortman Landusky mine in North Central Montana. To date, taxpayers have footed a bill for more than $50 million to cleanup toxic waste at the site. And the cleanup is projected to cost $2 million a year for the foreseeable future.


This editorial solely represents the opinion of the Chronicle Editorial Board. The board consists of the opinion editor, the managing editor, the publisher and several community members. The community members are non-journalists who provide input and help shape the board's opinions.

The board does not represent the views of the newsroom, and its opinions have no influence over the Chronicle's news coverage. To submit feedback on this editorial, email citydesk@dailychronicle.com.

Editorial Board

  • Mark Dobie, publisher
  • Michael Wright, managing editor
  • Bill Wilke, opinion page editor
  • Richard Broome, community member
  • Renee Gavin, community member
  • Charles Rinker, community member
  • Will Swearingen, community member
  • Angie Wasia, community member

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