Ever since President George W. Bush created a massive loophole in the Clean Water Act in 2002, mining companies have been able to dump their toxic and dangerous mining waste directly into the waters we all rely on.
In 1972, Congress overwhelmingly passed the Clean Water Act to end the use of lakes, rivers, streams and wetlands as waste dumps. Before that, America's waters and people had been suffering from pollution, and many lakes and rivers became unfit for drinking, swimming and fishing.
But in 2002, America's waters and people took a hard hit. By coming up with a new definition for "fill material," the Bush administration opened the floodgates for coal mines in Appalachia to destroy streams with the waste created by blowing the tops off of mountains. In 2004, the Bush administration expanded that loophole to allow even more dangerous dumping of toxic mine "tailings"—the chemically processed wastewater slurry from extracting gold and other metals.
Lower Slate Lake in Alaska, before the Kensington Gold Mine's waste dumping and after.
(Photo Credits: Before: Irene Alexakos. After: Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation.)
For nearly a decade now, we've watched as wealthy mining corporations turn some of America's most pristine lakes and streams into industrial waste dumps.
In Alaska, a new gold mine is pumping hundreds of thousands of gallons per day of toxic wastewater slurry into Lower Slate Lake, killing its fish and aquatic life. And this is just the beginning. High gold and metal prices have triggered a mining boom that, without stronger regulation, threatens countless lakes, streams and wetlands in Alaska and throughout the country.
The Obama administration must close this loophole, now, and restore protections for our waters. Clean, safe, healthy water for all Americans must take priority over corporate interests. Please write to the Obama administration (Acting Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Bob Perciasepe, Army Corps of Engineers Commanding General and Chief of Engineers LTG Robert L. Van Antwerp, and White House Council on Environmental Quality Chair Nancy Sutley) and tell them to close this loophole and stop the dumping of mining waste into our waters!