Proposed Mine near Emigrant Peak by Yellowstone National Park
Jeff Reed, PhD
Rivers Bend Lodge - Owner
Arrow Electronics - Chief Technology Officer
2786 Highway 89 S, Emigrant MT 59027
DEQ- Helena, MT
RE: Proposed Mining Exploratory Sites Near Emigrant Peak
Dear Mr McCullough and Mr Governor,
As you can see from the photo, Emigrant Peak would obviously be near and dear to my heart (and all of our hearts, as Montanans) and my business – part of the large tourism business that makes up Montana’s economy. Of course, my tourism business pales in comparison to one of Montana’s largest employers, namely, mining. Nonetheless, I generate jobs. I generate revenue that results in taxes. And, unlike mining, I and others have a sustainable, long-term business model.
Granted, as a post-modern human, I consume resources that require mining to produce those goods (cars, electronics, electrical wiring for my house, etc). While I understand the irony, and potential hypocrisy, of my request, I make it with two goals that I believe contain pure integrity. In essence, I ask:
...a serious cost-benefit analysis should justify the short-term and long-term risks. I emphasize “long-term” here. If a company wants to profit from public (or private land) it must factor in the wider impact it potentially has and build that in to its business model. If it can’t justify those long-term risks, then the business model should be rejected…as simple common-sense would suggest.
…perhaps more importantly, a VERY high standard for this proposal in light of the location it plays in one of the greatest achievements in American history: namely, Yellowstone National Park, and the watershed that flows out of it on the longest undammed river in the lower 48. Put simply, please do your job as a representative of the citizenry. Short-term and long-term. Challenge all business analysis with the utmost rigor demanded of the real treasure at stake. In fact, work from the premise that this won’t get approved unless the level of proof is flawless.
On this latter point, regardless of each of our human motives to use the land (including mining), I will close with advice from an outsider to the USA, who commented on American’s incessant need to use its natural resources instead of live with them.
“Gentlemen [and Ladies], why in heaven’s name this haste? You have time enough. […] Ages and ages lie before you. Why sacrifice the present to the future, fancying that you will be happier when your fields teem with wealth and your cities with people? In Europe we have cities wealthier and more populous than yours, and we are not happy. You dream of your posterity; but your posterity will look back to yours as the golden age, and envy those who first burst into this silent, splendid nature, who first lifted up their axes upon these tall trees, and lined these waters with busy wharves. Why, then, seek to complete in a few decades what the other nations of the world took thousands of years over in the older continents? […] Why, in your hurry to subdue and utilize nature, squander her splendid gifts? […] Why hasten the advent of that threatening day when the vacant spaces of the continent shall all have been filled, and the poverty or discontent of the older States shall find no outlet? You have opportunities such as mankind has never had before, and may never have again. Your work is great and noble; it is done for a future longer and vaster than our conceptions can embrace. Why not make its outlines and beginnings worthy of these destinies, the thought of which gilds your hopes and elevates your purposes?" - James Bryce
These words came around the time when two great landlords of our natural landscape, John Muir and Teddy Roosevelt (albeit two very different people), agreed on the “value” of aggressively protecting large swaths of land from our very greed. Interestingly, President Roosevelt collaborated and met with John Muir soon after christening Yellowstone Park standing on the keystone of the famous arch located near Gardiner Montana, and making the heartfelt statement:
"For the benefit and enjoyment of the people."
And, I’m pretty sure he didn’t have miners (whom I respect) in mind when he made that declaration. Clearly, the grand Yellowstone River that flows near this arch and past Emigrant Peak could be impacted by this mining…which says nothing for the grandeur of Emigrant Peak and the (public) Absaroka range around it, seen by people from around the world who enjoy and spend money with our small businesses, who in turn pay taxes…today and well in to the future. The last time I checked, Montana’s state budget is highly dependent upon that revenue stream…today and well in to the future. I will be very surprised if this mining effort is allowed to even go in to the exploratory phase.
Dr. Jeff Reed