Just last month, backers of the Red Dog Mine in Northwest Alaska insisted that existing federal and state mining pollution laws were plenty strong. The anti-pollution proposition on the August primary election ballot was unnecessary, they said, because mines are already properly disposing of their wastes.
If that's the case, why did Red Dog agree earlier this summer to build a 55-mile pipeline to pump its wastewater to the Chukchi Sea?
Red Dog proposes to build the wastewater pipeline at a cost of as much as $120 million to settle a lawsuit brought by villagers in Kivalina.
The villagers contend the zinc and lead mine violated its federal water pollution discharge permit 2,600 times since 2002. Treated waste from Red Dog eventually goes into the Wulik River, where Kivalina gets its drinking water.
Red Dog owners and supporters campaigned vigorously against Ballot Measure 4 in the primary election. It would have prevented any new, large-scale mining from disposing of mining waste in any way that would harm humans or spawning salmon.
Read the full editorial at adn.com.