NBC Montana: Tester pressed on Superfund cleanup, Israel-Hamas war during town hall

by Josh Margolis

In the Mining City on Friday afternoon, U.S. Senator Jon Tester (D-MT) held an open town hall on the Montana Tech Campus.

Around 150 people packed the auditorium at the campus library to ask Montana’s senior member of congress their thoughts.

Among the topics were low wages for teachers, Montana’s new tech hub designation, and most prominently, the ongoing superfund cleanup in Butte, with Tester and audience members calling out the EPA for what they believe to be a lack of transparency and an insufficient job to date.

“They don’t have any intention of having these open meetings beyond the end of the year,” said Butte citizen Superfund watchdog Evan Barrett, mentioning the EPA’s piloting of increased transparency. “I just want to call that to your attention because I think we’ve got a half a loaf answer from those folks and we have to keep their feet to the fire.”

“If they are going to make a good decision, as I said before, taking public input is the way you get there. Not denying public access. That’s how you don’t come to a decision,” said Tester. So absolutely agree with you 100%. We will continue to not only push, but demand they are open. A pilot just shouldn’t be.”

Several people also asked the Senator why he hasn’t called for a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip. Tester says he stands by his position, and that there are no good answers but ultimately, Israel has the right to defend itself.

“There are no good solutions. And that’s a fact. Hamas has said they want to wipe Israel off the map. You know who else they want to wipe off the map? The United States of America. That is a fact,” said Tester in response to questioning from Butte resident Emma Connelly.