Legalizing Mine Cleanups
"Conservation groups and other private organizations have indicated that they would like to clean up these mines, unfortunately federal red tape is holding them back."
“There are no solutions, there are only trade-offs; you try to get the best trade-off you can get, that’s all you can hope for.” – Thomas Sowell
Montana has a long history of mining, dating all the way back to the days in which our state was just a territory. While these mines undoubtedly forged the communities that make up much of Montana today, this history is not without consequence.
Today, thousands of mines across Montana are leaking toxic pollutants into our waterways and communities. Many of these mines are from the early boom days and the owners of the mines are long deceased, making the decision of who should be responsible for the cleanup even more challenging.
Conservation groups and other private organizations have indicated that they would like to clean up these mines, unfortunately federal red tape is holding them back. Strict regulations limit how and where groups can engage in cleanup, often leaving the source of the pollution off limits to Good Samaritan organizations.
In PERC Policy Director Hannah Downey’s most recent column she discusses how red tape is preventing Good Samaritans from engaging in mine cleanups and the work being done to fix the problem:
“Montana’s U.S. Senators Steve Daines and Jon Tester are co-sponsoring an effort in Congress to right this wrong. The bipartisan Good Samaritan Remediation of Abandoned Hardrock Mines Act would authorize a pilot of 15 Good Samaritan projects to clean abandoned mines free from these regulatory and liability obstacles.”
Be sure to check out the entire article to learn more about the red tape holding back mine cleanups.
We are thrilled to announce that registration officially opened last week for Montana doctors to dispense prescribed medications directly to patients, an issue the Frontier Institute led the way on during last year’s legislative session.
Our Take: This reform is another step forward in helping to drive down the cost of health care by removing government barriers to free choice and empowering patients with control of their health decisions.
Balancing Facial Recognition
A recent article by the Cato Institute discusses how facial recognition is being used outside of the context of law enforcement during the conflict in Ukraine. Facial recognition is being used to identify the deceased, identify missing children and reunite families fleeing the conflict. The article demonstrates the need for “policies that allow public officials to use FRT while also protecting civil liberties.”
Our Take: Facial recognition is a powerful tool that when used properly can provide substantial benefits to society. An outright ban on the technology would mean that Montanans would be unable to enjoy the benefits that come along with using the technology, however on the other hand, with no limitations the technology could be easily abused by law enforcement. As lawmakers continue to study facial recognition, they should look to institute uniform and transparent rules that will allow Montana officials to use the technology in a way that does not violate the privacy rights of Montanans.
Government Barriers to Housing
In last week’s Kalispell City Council meeting the topic of discussion revolved around approaches to create more affordable housing. Councilor Sid Daoud made a great point when he said, “One of the things a government can do to increase housing during times like this is to just get out of the way.”
Our Take: We couldn’t agree more, government needs to get out of the way and remove the red tape preventing the creation of affordable housing. That is why we have proposed changes to cut regulatory red tape by reforming Minimum Lot Areas and Exclusionary Single Family Zoning – restoring landowner freedom to build affordable housing where it is needed most.