Supreme Court Gives Go Ahead to Dump Waste in Lakes
In a shocking ruling, the US Supreme Court has given a mining company the green (or antigreen) light to dump 4.5 million tons of toxic waste into an Alaskan lake.
The court's decision will allow gold mining company Coeur Alaska Inc. to dump 4.5 million tons of waste into Lower Slate Lake - a decision that the courts, the mining company and outraged environmentalists all agree will kill all life in the lake. The reason? because it's the "easiest" way to dispose of the mining slurry - which is full of toxic substances like arsenic.
In 2005, Coeur Alaska made an application to the Army Corps of Engineers, run by the Bush administration, which granted the permit with the knowledge that the dumping would leave permanent environmental degradation in its wake.
Environmentalists learned of the application and launched a law suit based on the premise that the Bush administration was violating the Clean Water Act. At the time, the US Court of Appeals agreed, and ruled out the permit in 2007.
As a result of the ruling, the original issue of toxic waste being dumped into one of Alaska's pristine lakes is the least of our environmental worries - the issue at the forefront is now the monumentally terrible precedent this ruling sets for unregulated dumping in the US.
A quote from the New York Times: "If a mining company can turn Lower Slate Lake in Alaska into a lifeless waste dump, other polluters with solids in their wastewater can potentially do the same to any water body in America," said Trip Van Noppen, president of the environmental advocacy group Earthjustice, whose lawyer argued the case before the court.
Will the Supreme Court ruling open the floodgates for toxic dumping in our lakes and rivers? The EPA is currently "looking into" the ruling while environmentalists and residents of Alaska wait and watch for the story to unfold.