Court ruling may force state to look at Palmer Mine permit once more

    Aerial view of Haines

    Juneau, Alaska (KINY) - A ruling by the U. S. Supreme Court has left the permitting of the proposed Palmer Mine in the Haines area up in the air.

    The high court ruled that the Clean Water Act applies to pollutants that reach protected waters, even from a distance.

    Chris Zimmer of Rivers Without Borders talked about the significance of the ruling while a guest on Action Line.   "All this does is set some clear standards and try to eliminate a loophole that industry was exploiting.  Industry kept saying, well we're not discharging into the waterway.  Okay, well you're discharging next to it or in a tributary.  It's ending up in the waterway.  At the end of the day, it's the same thing."

    Zimmer called the ruling a common sense move by the court to fill a loophole that the industry was trying to exploit.  "You can't trade one resource for another.  You can't trade mining for clean water.  You can't trade mining for fish and mining in the state has to have reasonable standards to protect the other uses of these waterways whether that's clean water, whether that's fishing.  This is just a reasonable measure to prevent pollution of our salmon streams."

     As a result, Zimmer believes the state will need to issue a new waste management permit as a result.

    Alaska Attorney General Kevin Clarkson complained in a filing with the high court that the decision by the Ninth Circuit Court drastically expanded the Clean Water Act and would place a huge burden on states, like Alaska, that have taken on pollution discharge elimination programs.

    The ruling came in the so-called "Maui decision."  


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