The announcement of a $50,000 grant from EPA, routed through the Citizens Technical Environmental Committee, to Restore Our Creek was certainly welcome. The feasibility study it will pay for will give the community a clearer picture of just how compatible the community’s vision of a restored creek is with the Superfund negotiators’ vision of a restored creek corridor.
When both of Montana’s U.S. senators’ offices put out dueling press releases Tuesday — within two minutes of one another — to announce the EPA’s approval of the grant, it was faintly amusing. But it was, at the same time, a validation of how much both senators are listening to the people of Butte.
As Congress and the executive branch teeter on a partisan balance beam — who knows which way they will lean after the 2020 elections — it remains absolutely essential that the delegation provide whatever heft it possesses to get behind the push for a completed, correct cleanup.
Without taking sides in the email war over credit for this funding, we must point out how refreshing it is to see Steve Daines and his office so engaged and informed on these issues. When Daines made the embarrassing comment, in support of the nomination of now-disgraced Scott Pruitt to head EPA, that it was high time the Berkeley Pit was cleaned up (a legally codified federal cleanup plan has been a matter of record for many years), it showed just how out of touch his office was.
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That changed dramatically with the hiring of Cindy Perdue-Dolan, former Butte-Silver Bow commissioner, who always took great interest in the Superfund process — judging by her attendance at community meetings, much more than many of her colleagues on the council — and clearly cares deeply about her chosen hometown.
For his part, Daines is also keeping in very close touch with Doug Benevento, former Region 8 EPA Administrator and now the heir apparent for the No. 2 job in the agency, and Administrator Andrew Wheeler.
Both Daines and Tester deserve Butte’s gratitude. We only ask that both senators stay closely engaged as the Butte Hill cleanup enters a critical juncture in the coming months.