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It's a big win for Montana's bull trout and Rock Creek

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By Bonnie Gestring

July 25, 2011

It s a victory for Montana s Rock Creek and threatened native bull trout.  Last week, the State District Court blocked a permit for the proposed Rock Creek mine, a copper silver mine which plans to tunnel under the Cabinet Mountains Wilderness in northwest Montana.

Earthworks and our co-plaintiffs, the Clark Fork Coalition, Rock Creek Alliance and Trout Unlimited, challenged the permit because it ignored the huge amount of sediment the mine would dump into Rock Creek, an important stronghold for threatened bull trout. Permitting studies for the mine showed the construction would cause a 38% increase in sediment pollution to Rock Creek, where existing sediment levels are already so high that any increase would impair bull trout spawning.

Biologists for the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks have identified Rock Creek as a crucial tributary for the recovery of bull trout in the lower Clark Fork River. We re heartened that the judge recognized Rock Creek as an area of "unique ecological significance" under Montana law.

Here s the story in the Missoulian

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Tagged with: rock creek mine, bull trout, cabinet mountain wilderness


Yellowstone Oil Spill Underscores the Need for Better Protection for Western Waters

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By Bonnie Gestring

July 6, 2011

This week s Exxon pipeline leak of 42,000 gallons of oil into Montana s famed Yellowstone River demonstrates just how quickly inadequate regulations translate into real harm to western waters, and the communities and businesses that rely on them. 

The Environmental Protection Agency is currently taking public comments on new guidelines that will determine which western waterways are considered waters of the U.S. and therefore protected under the Clean Water Act.

Some recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions have muddied the water, and these guidance documents will go a long way towards clarifying this important issue.

The EPA estimates that more than 117 million Americans get their drinking water from public supplies fed in whole or in part by intermittent or ephemeral streams vulnerable to pollution thanks to current confusion.

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Tagged with: epa, clean water act, oil spill, pipeline leak, exxon, waters of the u.s.


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