Supreme Court to Hear Clean Water Act Case

Court decision will clarify whether mining companies may bury clean lakes, rivers and streams with mine tailings


Tom Waldo, Earthjustice, (907) 586-2751

The United States Supreme Court announced today it plans to hear arguments in the case surrounding the Kensington Mine’s plan to destroy an Alaskan lake by using it as a dumping ground for chemically processed mine tailings. The plan, rejected by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, would bury the existing lake and kill all its fish. The following statement is from Earthjustice attorney Tom Waldo:

“Modern mines have never been allowed to dump tailings into lakes. The federal Clean Water Act prohibits it, and for good reason. The Ninth Circuit’s decision confirms a rule of law that has been in place for over 30 years, and we are hopeful that the Supreme Court will come to the same conclusion.

“This is an opportunity for the courts to find once and for all that filling a pristine lake with 4.5 million tons of mining waste violates the Clean Water Act. This misguided plan by the Kensington Mine and the Army Corps of Engineers represents a dangerous assault on all of America’s lakes, rivers and streams. Since the Clean Water Act was passed over 35 years ago, no new mine has ever been allowed to dump its chemically processed mine tailings into a lake, and they should not be allowed to start now.”

Earthjustice represents the Sierra Club, the Southeast Alaska Conservation Council, and Lynn Canal Conservation in the case. 

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