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B.C. Mine Disaster a Stark Reminder

  August 27, 2014.  B.C. Mine Disaster a Stark Reminder.  You may have heard the news of August 6 about the tailing pond dam failure at the Mount Polley mine in northern British Columbia. The dam failing released 2.6 billion gallons of contaminated mine waste water and 5.9 million cubic yards of toxic sediment destroying Hazeltine Creek and severely effecting two lakes: Polley Lake and Quesnel Lake.

[To view short video click here]

This environmental disaster serves as a stark reminder of what can go wrong with mining in the mountains, and in British Columbia in particular.

While different than the historic coal mines proposals for the Canadian side of the North Fork Flathead River, the implications of environmental disaster hit the mark: a mountaintop removal mine upstream of pristine lakes. Think North Fork of the Flathead River and Flathead Lake.

Thankfully - very thankfully - British Columbia's conservative political party lived up to its commitment under the B.C. - Montana MOU of 2010 and passed legislation in 2011 that banned mining and energy activity in their part of the watershed. Regretfully - very regretfully - Congress has failed to pass the North Fork Watershed Protection Act (NFWPA), even though Montanans of all stripes and persuasion support the legislation.

We at Headwaters Montana have a problem with the inaction of Montana's congressional delegation. Passing the NFWPA provides the only guarantee that B.C. will not mine their part of the watershed. Without congressional action, B.C. would be free to rescind their protection. It's called "reciprocity", and we Montanans have to get there!

Now that election year madness is fully upon us we hold little hope that Congressman Daines will work to help pass legislation that he says he supports - a bill he got passed in the House. With Sen. Walsh now sidelined in the election, one would think that the politics of the senate race could be put aside.

The Mount Polley mine disaster didn't happen in our backyard. It's "someone else's problem." But we have our own business to attend to as Montanans - and Congress needs to get the message and act.

Please take a moment and write Congressman Daines and politely ask him to work with Senators Walsh and Tester to complete the North Fork Watershed Protection Act before Congress adjourns.

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