Taking A Dump On Alaska

Supreme Court overrules Clean Water Act to allow mining company to dump waste into lakes, rivers, and streams

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Alaska is a wild place. For reference, here’s a few things you can get away with in the Last Frontier that you can’t in the Lower 48 :

1) Hunting apex predators

2) Climbing to over 18,000 feet only two miles from sea level

3) Buying a 12-pack of Natty Ice, drinking ’em all, and stashing the empties in your snowmachine…before noon*

Add to that list “dumping mining waste into lakes, rivers, and other bodies of water as long as you get a permit from the Army Corps of Engineers.” The Supreme Court ruled 6-3 today that Coeur Alaska Inc., a gold mining company, effectively has permission to release 4.5 million tons of slurry from their Kensington mine into Lower Slate Lake, near Juneau.

Once the waste gets poured into the lake, it’s guaranteed to destroy all the life in it. This has naturally raised the hackles of environmentalists who insist this neuters the Clean Water Act and paves the way for more water-borne polluting everywhere in the U.S. But supporters contend that the corps determined Lower Slate Lake was the least environmentally damaging option.

Oh, Alaska—you so crazy. You gave us the Palins, Deadliest Catch, and the sickest backcountry ever. What will you think of next?

—Ted Alvarez

Supreme Court Justices Say Waste Can Be Dumped in Lake (NY Times)

*courtesy of BACKPACKER’s staff Alaskan