In Montana, where author Norman Maclean was haunted by moving waters, a new coalition of sportsmen, ranchers and environmentalists hopes voters will approve a fall ballot initiative toughening the state's water quality laws. If passed, the initiative could create significant new challenges for two large-scale mining projects, one proposed for a site near Yellowstone National Park, the other near the headwaters of the Blackfoot River.
The coalition, which calls
itself Montanans for Clean Water, says its initiative is a moderate
response to the 1995 Legislature's lowering of water-quality
standards. The mining industry says the initiative is
Gary Buchanan, former director of
the Montana Department of Commerce and co-chair of the coalition
with rancher Francis Bardanouve, disagrees. "Neither Francis nor I
would be involved if we felt the initiative would kill all mining
in Montana," he says. Buchanan says the new standards would require
modern mines to use the best available technologies to protect
Once state officials approve the
initiative's wording, the group has until June 21 to gather
signatures of 20,392 registered voters.