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Consumer health advocates urge governor to sign bill package; NY protests for Jewish democracy heighten as Netanyahu meets UN today; Multiple Utah cities set to use ranked-choice voting in next election.

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The Pentagon wants to help service members denied benefits under "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," advocates back a new federal office of gun violence prevention, and a top GOP member assures the Ukrainian president more help is coming.

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An Indigenous project in South Dakota seeks to protect tribal data sovereignty, advocates in North Carolina are pushing back against attacks on public schools, and Arkansas wants the hungriest to have access to more fruits and veggies.

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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