Does the Supreme Court have the last word on Coeur's intent to dump toxic mine tailings (which the Army Corp has decided to call fill) into Lower Slate Lake from its proposed Kensington Gold Mine operations near Juneau, Alaska?
The EPA, though it has the authority, according to the Clean Water Act, to overrule the Army Corps of Engineers permit for Kensington Gold Mine, has this week merely asked to Corp to review its permit.
Alaska's Governor and Governor-To-Be are calling foul. Alaska's Senators, both Murkowski and Begich, are blustering about this as well.
Across the nation, folks are watching the Administration, the EPA, Congress, Alaska. What's at stake is the integrity of the U.S. Clean Water Act and the implications across the nation are significant.
The Supreme Court recently ruled in a 6-3 split decision that the Army Corps had the sole authority to administer their permit. Ruth Bader Ginsberg, leading the dissenting opinion, said no, the final authority for administering the Clean Water Act lies with EPA.
Alternative tailings disposal methods need to be reviewed and the public needs to weigh in, claims EPA. Their letter to the Corps requesting review of the permit decision will allow time for additional public comment and likely delay full-scale mining operation for the next several months.
Lower Slate Lake has fish in it. The tailings dump into the lake will clearly kill all aquatic life in the lake. "We'll restore the lake later," claims Coeur, a company well-known for leaving toxic mine waste pollution around the world.
The upper Lynn Canal in Alaska, where the Kensington mine is located--several miles north of Juneau--is home to significant wild salmon runs.
Alaskans have significant reasons to be concerned about operations of a gold mine located in this area.
If Kossacks value the Clean Water Act and ability of the EPA to enforce its provisions, now might be the time to let the Administration hear from you on this. Support your EPA. Support the Clean Water Act.
Leaving decisions for permitting mine tailings disposal into waters of the U.S. solely to the Army Corps of Engineers risks the future of clean water and sustainable fisheries in this country.