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Protesting proposed copper mine

In this file photo, a protester against the proposed copper mine near the Smith River grabs a sign on Nov. 6, 2017, after fellow demonstrators drove a procession of drift boats around the State Capitol.

The Montana Mining Association lost a court battle Tuesday trying to stop an environmental initiative aimed at limiting pollution from new hard rock mines if it passes.

The Montana Supreme Court ruled unanimously against the association. MMA sued Attorney General Tim Fox and Corey Stapleton, secretary of state, in May, contending that the initiative, I-186, violates state law regarding the effective date of initiatives.

The lawsuit was filed against the state attorney general because his office determines whether ballot initiatives are legally sufficient, and the secretary of state, because his office certifies that initiatives can appear on the ballot.

MMA asked the state Supreme Court to declare the ballot initiative legally insufficient. The group, Yes for Responsible Mining, a consortium of environmental groups, wrote the initiative earlier this year and has been gathering signatures to get the measure before voters this fall.

Yes for Responsible Mining has a few days left to provide more than 25,000 signatures from all across the state.

Justice Laurie McKinnon delivered the opinion, saying that MMA’s challenge is outside the scope of the attorney general’s legal-sufficiency review and also outside the scope of state court’s pre-election initiative review.

A group calling itself Stop I-186 to Protect Miners and Jobs, a coalition of miners, teachers, small business officials and others, launches at 11 a.m. Wednesday at Montana Tech University Relations building, in the Poore room on the second floor.

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Nat'l Resources / General Reporter

Environmental and natural resources reporter for the Montana Standard.

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