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Posts tagged: Superfund

Basin Cleanup Scaled Way Back

The proposed $1.3 billion Superfund cleanup of a century of mining contamination in North Idaho’s Coeur d’Alene Basin is being scaled back significantly, Idaho lawmakers were told Tuesday. Instead of taking up to 100 years and costing $1.3 billion, the cleanup would last more like 30 years and cost about $736 million, Idaho Department of Environmental Quality Director Toni Hardesty told the House Environment Committee. The Environmental Protection Agency will be unveiling the proposed changes at a Coeur d’Alene Basin Commission meeting Wednesday in Wallace. “We were hopeful that they would scale that back significantly,” Hardesty said. “It’s consistent with the comments that the state submitted, so we’re pleased”/Betsy Z. Russell, Eye On Boise. More here. (Betsy Russell photo: Idaho Rep. Shannon McMillan, right, and her son James, left, listen to committee debate on their resolution ordering the EPA to leave the Coeur d’Alene Basin)

Question: Do you support the move to significantly scale back Coeur d'Alene Basin cleanup?

Hecla May Pay $263M For Pollution

Hecla Mining Co. has reached a tentative settlement with the federal government, Coeur d’Alene Tribe and state of Idaho over its role in turning the Coeur d’Alene Basin into a Superfund site, company officials said today. Under the proposal, Hecla would pay $263.4 million over the next four years to resolve the company’s financial liability for historic releases of heavy metals into the environment. By April 15, the parties must report on the status of their negotiations in U.S. District Court in Boise. “The opportunity to settlement this litigation is an important milestone for the company,” Phil Baker, Hecla’s chief executive officer, told financial analysts today during a conference call/Becky Kramer, SR. More here.

Question: Are you happy with this tentative agreement?

Idaho Delegation Opposes EPA Plan

Idaho’s congressional delegation is lining up to oppose the Environmental Protection Agency’s mining cleanup plans in the Coeur d’Alene basin. In a joint news release, the delegation took turns criticizing the cost of the plan. Of some note here are comments from 2nd District Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho. While his district is hundreds of miles from the Coeur d’Alene basin, Simpson sits in a key position on this issue. In a Republican-controlled House, Simpson will chair an appropriations subcommittee with jurisdiction over EPA. “Setting all other arguments aside, there can be no justification for the costs associated with these changes given the current economic challenges facing our nation and the enormous debt Congress and the administration continue to pile on future generations,” wrote Simpson/Kevin Richert, Idaho Statesman. More here.

Question: Are the costs of the proposed EPA cleanup of the Silver Valley justified in view of the current economic situation in this country?

Otter Slams EPA’s Upper Basin Plan

Item: Otter letter critical of EPA: Governor says upper basin plan can’t go forward/Coeur d’Alene Press

More Info: In a letter on Monday, Gov. Butch Otter criticized the EPA’s proposed Record of Decision amendment for the Upper Basin, and said a successful cleanup in the Silver Valley “is impossible without a healthy community and a strong local economy.” “In my view, the proposed ROD amendment must not go forward unless the EPA commits that cleanup work will not impede existing or future mining,” Otter wrote. “Moreover, the proposed ROD is not acceptable unless the EPA identifies and commits to reasonable and achievable endpoints.”

Question: Otter goes on to say that the EPA must “live within people’s means.” Should the EPA hold off far-reaching plans during these hard economic times?

Bond: Seattle, Keep Hands Off Idaho

Following is an open letter to Seattle, written by David Bond, Wallace Street Journal: Imagine if some unelected bureaucracy in Post Falls, Idaho, decided, using computer models, that airplanes were unsafe because: (a) they crash once in awhile, and; (b) the aluminum and plastics used in their manufacture were unsafe to human health if consumed in large enough quantities. Having reached this conclusion, this Idaho  bureaucracy ordered the closure of all Boeing plants in your state for 50 to 90 years – said order absolute and not subject to court challenge. What would your reaction be? Probably similar to how those of us residing in the Coeur d’Alene Mining District of northern Idaho feel about the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Region X push for an irrevocable 50- to 90-year record of decision (ROD) imposing absolute rule over our mining community of 10,000 people. More here.

Question: What do you make of the EPA’s push for “absolute rule” over the mining district of the Silver Valley?

Press: Avoid Superfund Designation

If our region is perceived as highly contaminated and unsafe, prospective businesses would be less likely to start or relocate here, tourists would be less likely to flock here, and the loss of jobs we’ve seen in this recessional wave could look minor compared to what comes next. We also believe property values throughout the region would plummet. If the plan now before the Legislature is not approved, clean-up authority will revert to the federal government. For the good of all North Idaho, we urge legislators to support the plan and approve its funding. We’ve come too far to let this good work be derailed now/CDA Press Editorial Board. More here.

Question: Should Lake Coeur d’Alene be declared a Superfund site, if it really is one?

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About this blog

D.F. Oliveria is a columnist and blogger for The Spokesman-Review. Print Huckleberries is a past winner of the Herb Caen Memorial Column contest by the National Association of Newspaper Columnists. The Readership Institute of Northwestern University cited this blog as a good example of online community journalism.

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