I live in Missoula, Mont., and have been an angler for 25 years. As a resident of Montana, I am quite familiar with benefits mining companies have provided in terms of jobs and the damages they have wreaked on our communities. Whatever your view of this equation, there is no question that mining companies must be held to the highest environmental standards.
I recently learned that the Corps of Engineers issued a permit allowing an Idaho-based mining company to dump its toxic mine waste into a lake near Juneau. I cannot think of a more risky and dangerous practice. It does not take a biology expert to know that dumping millions of tons of tailings and contaminated water into a lake is simply a bad idea, which will have serious consequences. It is a huge step backwards from the gains communities have made since the Clean Water Act was enacted in 1972.
I applaud the efforts of the three conservation organizations that challenged the Corps' permit. If the permit were allowed to stand, the Corps could issues similar permits for mines in other parts of Alaska, Montana or virtually anywhere in the country. That type of permit will undoubtedly harm our clean water. Please do not take our clean water for granted; it is far too important of a resource to be used as a dump site for mining waste.
Michael C. Willett