One of the most amazing things to see in conservation work is a true collaborative process.
Last year, we witnessed the beauty of collaboration as we watched seven different state and federal agencies, three First Nations, two international committees, and one Board of Environmental Review, come together to protect Montana’s Lake Koocanusa and Kootenai River from Canadian mining pollution. Now, the same mining company causing the pollution is trying to roll back all the collaborative effort.
The only source of selenium into Montana and then Idaho is from five mountain-top removal coal mines operated by Teck Resources in the Elk River Valley in British Columbia. Selenium pollution flows from the mines, down the Elk River into Lake Koocanusa, and ultimately, the Kootenai River in northern Idaho.
Selenium is a toxic element that gets into our waterways, makes its way up the food chain, and triggers harmful side effects in burbot and endangered Kootenai River white sturgeon. The Kootenai Tribe of Idaho plays a leading role in the recovery of these fish. Increasing selenium concentrations in the Kootenai River threatens to undermine these recovery efforts.
With a goal of protecting our watersheds and preventing further damage to fish, the Montana Board of Environmental Review voted to approve new water quality limits for selenium. Montana now has the most protective selenium limits in the United States.
Teck is now attempting to undermine Montana law by appealing the new limits. Rolling back the selenium limits would not only put the entire watershed at risk, but it would also destroy any hope the US has at holding Teck accountable for polluting U.S. waters.
The hearing is scheduled for Monday, January 31st at 9 am PST. If you would like to help stop Teck from polluting the Kootenai River, join the meeting and share your voice! Tell the Board of Environmental Review that you support their initial approval of the standard and want them to continue standing up to Teck.
Dial by Telephone:
+1 646 558 8656 or +1 406 444 9999
Meeting ID: 876 7694 5190
If you would like to share your voice on Monday, join the meeting and tell Montana:
- You care about Idaho and Montana rivers and want to keep them clean, healthy, and fishable.
- Teck’s mining practices have polluted this watershed for the last 50 years and are having substantial impacts on fish species. Specifically, selenium pollution is threatening burbot and endangered Kootenai River White Sturgeon.
- Montana made great progress toward addressing the pollution when they adopted the new water quality limits. Ask Montana to continue standing up against Teck and protect our water quality.
- The new Montana water quality limits help to protect Idaho and Montana waters from Teck’s pollution. If we remove them, we would only be hurting ourselves.