Yellowstone mine a goner

  A year after President Clinton announced his opposition to a proposed gold mine just outside Yellowstone National Park, he delivered the goods.

At an Aug. 12 press conference in the park, Clinton announced that Crown Butte Mine Inc. had agreed to give up its mine project in exchange for unspecified real estate valued at no more than $65 million. The mine would have brought as many as 321 employees into a sparsely populated area that teems with wildlife and would have produced 11 million tons of acidic rock waste - four tons for every ounce of gold.

"The agreement ... proves that everyone can agree that Yellowstone is more precious than gold," the president said.

Although the details of the exchange have not been finalized, Mike Clark, the executive director of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition, says "It's not a gold-for-gold exchange, and we won't settle for damage to other critical wildlands at Yellowstone's benefit." The exchange, he says, could involve other federal lands, office buildings or even closed military facilities.

To partially resolve a pending water pollution lawsuit brought against it by environmentalists, Crown Butte has agreed to pay $22.5 million toward cleanup of existing pollution at the site.

*Paul Larmer

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