In a sad but expected ruling this week, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals lifted a 2006 injunction that had been preventing a gold mining company in Alaska from dumping 4.5 millions tons of toxic wastewater slurry into the Tongass Forest’s Lower Slate Lake. Everyone agrees that such a large toxic dump would kill all living things in the lake — but the mining company says they’ll simply restock the lake after they’ve finished mining.
To me, restocking isn’t a valid answer to the problem of killing all the fish and aquatic life. A better solution? Stop dumping toxic wastewater in the first place.
The Circuit Court’s ruling came after the Supreme Court sided with mining interests, concluding that the Army Corps of Engineers could issue this permit. Environmentalists argued that the Clean Water Act, passed in 1972, prohibited such toxic dumps and put the responsibility for regulation with the Environmental Protection Agency. The Supreme Court’s June 22 ruling rejected this line of reasoning, saying there was nothing preventing the Army Corps of Engineers to be the one to issue the permit.
Environmental groups worry that this ruling sets a dangerous precedent and will allow other industrial interests to pursue similar toxic dumping in waterways. The only way to stop this plan is to change the law.
That’s just what could happen if Congress passes the Clean Water Protection Act. This new bill reaffirms the original purpose of the 1972 Clean Water Act: to protect waterways from being used as waste disposal sites. The passage of the Clean Water Protection Act will ensure lakes, rivers, streams and wetlands are not destroyed by industrial waste dumping by passing.
For the safety of our country’s waterways, urge your Representative to pass the Clean Water Protection Act today!