Daines honors Butte cop’s heroism during visit to Butte

Butte Police Officer Nick Butorovich had a good reason to wear his dress blues Friday. He accepted honors from a United States senator.

Sen. Steve Daines, in Butte to speak to the Montana Association of Counties at their winter conference, took time immediately afterward to hand Butorovich something the officer will doubtless treasure all his life: A Congressional Record honoring him for pulling an unconscious woman out of a burning car last September, saving her life and burning himself in the process.

That night, Butorovich arrived at the scene of an accident to find an SUV rolled over and burning. He saw the driver hanging upside down by her seat belt, unconscious. He reached into the burning car, cut her seat belt and dragged her to safety.

Sheriff Ed Lester said, “This is an outstanding example of a patrol officer doing his job and being in the right place at the right time. If Nick arrived 30 seconds later or hesitated because of the danger, this woman would not have survived.”

Daines handed an embossed copy of the Congressional Record —  the tribute he read about Butorovich on the floor of the Senate — to the officer, thanking him for his heroism.

Butorovich deflected the praise, saying, “It was just another night’s work.” He also credited family in two directions: His grandfather, the late Bob Butorovich, a well-loved former Butte-Silver Bow County Sheriff — “He taught me about integrity and duty. He was my foundation” — and his wife Jordyn and their 2-year-old daughter Gaia, who were by his side Friday. “They’re the reason I do everything,” he said.

With Butorovich and his family at the ceremony were Lester; Undersheriff George Skuletich; and Chief Executive J.P. Gallagher.

In an interview with The Montana Standard Friday, Daines disclosed he has invited Michael S. Regan, the Biden Administration’s nominee for the position of EPA Administrator, to Butte and Anaconda.

Daines said local Superfund issues “were the first thing” he and Regan talked about in a 30-minute video conference. “I emphasized to him that we had made great progress, including getting consent decrees” in Butte and Anaconda, “and that we were moving toward actual implementation” of Superfund remedy and restoration.

“We need to keep the progress going,” Daines said, “so I asked him to come out to see for himself. It was 28 years between EPA administrator visits” before Andrew Wheeler came to Butte in 2018, he said, “and I told him, ‘Let’s not make it another 28 years.'”

At the conference, Daines said that “a significant shift to the left” in Washington in the first month of the Biden Administration was troublesome, and was setting up a new dynamic in Congress.

“We have a 50-50 Senate now, and of course Vice President Kamala Harris presides,” he said. “But what that means is the most influential man in Washington right now is named Joe. Not Joe Biden — Joe Manchin.” He referred to the West Virginia Democrat who often votes with Republicans.

Daines said it was unfortunate that “moderate Democrats” like Manchin were getting rarer.

“Bipartisanship takes work,” he said. “We don’t have Democrats like Mike Mansfield any more.” He said what he hears now from most Democrats is “crazy talk” — like opposition to the Keystone XL Pipeline.

He said that “just six hours” after Biden gave a speech stressing unity, he signed an executive order rescinding federal approval for the pipeline.

“It makes absolutely no sense,” he said. “There is no logical, scientific rationale.” He mentioned the $60 million to $80 million in tax revenue the pipeline would have meant to six Montana counties, and said, “This was a payoff — a payoff from Biden to the progressive far left. And we’re paying the bill in Montana.”

He spoke of his stated opposition to Deb Haaland, Biden’s nominee to be Secretary of the Interior.

“It would be a wonderful thing,” to have a Native American as Secretary of the Interior, Daines said. “I oppose her not because of her ethnicity but because of her policies.”

Daines said moderation was needed. He cited Haaland’s position opposing the delisting of Yellowstone ecosystem grizzlies. “The bears have recovered,” he said “We should celebrate that,” not keep them listed as threatened forever, he said. “We can do better in moderation. We need balance, not these far-left views.”