DEQ drops 'bad actor' claim against Hecla exec

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In a reversal, Montana’s Department of Environmental Quality won’t press for “bad actor” sanctions against Hecla Mining Co. executive Phillips Baker for leaving unfinished reclamation work on several past gold mines.

Under former Gov. Steve Bullock’s administration, DEQ had attempted to use Montana’s Bad Actor law to prohibit Baker from working with Hecla to develop new copper and silver mines next to the Cabinet Mountains Wilderness in Lincoln County.

Phillips S. Baker Jr.

J. CRAIG SWEAT

In the department’s brief to the court, DEQ attorney Sarah Clerget wrote that the election of Gov. Greg Gianforte and appointment of a new director of the agency prompted “a very careful look at the entire record of this case.”

“The fact that the case has already been going for three years without getting to the merits, and there are still several complex procedural hurdles and a messy past procedural posture, complicates and potentially risks DEQ’s ultimate goal, which was and is to prevent bad actors from operating in Montana,” Clerget wrote.

“Most importantly, DEQ would prefer to address the problem of bad actors

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