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Friday, June 14, 2024

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SCOTUS begins issuing new opinions, with another expected related to the power of federal agencies, the battleground state of Wisconsin gets a ruling on alternative voting sites, and coastal work is being done to help salt marshes withstand hurricanes.

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The Supreme Court for now protects access to abortion drug mifepristone, while Senate Republicans block a bill protecting access to in-vitro fertilization. Wisconsin's Supreme Court bans mobile voting sites, and colleges deal with funding cuts as legislatures target diversity programs.

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As summer nears, America's newest and largest international dark sky sanctuary beckons, rural job growth is up, but full recovery remains elusive, rural Americans living in prison towns support a transition, while birth control is more readily available in rural areas.

Canadian Coal Mine Pollution Threatens North ID River

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Monday, May 15, 2023   

Pollution from Canadian mines is endangering one of Idaho's largest rivers.

Selenium and other pollutants from coal mines across the northern border are impacting fish species in the Kootenai River.

Environmental director for the Kootenai Tribe of Idaho, Genny Hoyle, said selenium is reducing or eliminating culturally important fish species.

"We have the endangered Kootenai River white sturgeon," said Hoyle. "It's a federally listed species. We have burbot - also a culturally important fish species for food. So when these populations disappear, you're also impacting treaty rights."

Hoyle said past cross-border attempts to solve this issue have broken down. Selenium in the Kootenai River has raised concerns in North Idaho for decades.

Jennifer Ekstrom, the North Idaho Lakes conservation associate with the Idaho Conservation League, said mine operators in Canada need to install wastewater treatment facilities.

To compel them to do so, she said the International Joint Commission needs to be put to work.

Ekstrom said U.S. Sen. Jim Risch - R-Idaho - is in a key position to help this happen, as the highest ranking Republican member of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.

"The highest levels of government in the United States - the State Department and the EPA - they're calling for a referral to the International Joint Commission," said Ekstrom. "But having our Republican senator's support would go a long way to actually getting the referral to happen."

Hoyle noted that there could be more threats to the river because new mines are going through the permitting process across the border in British Columbia.

"The Kootenai Tribe isn't opposed to mining," said Hoyle. "We just would like them to clean up the pollution coming out of those mines."



Disclosure: Idaho Conservation League contributes to our fund for reporting on Energy Policy, Environment, Public Lands/Wilderness, Water. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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