Mixed message to mining: Clean up, says Obama Cabinet. Mess up, says Bush-era Supreme Court

IT’S AS SCREWY as it sounds.

On Monday, in a 6-3 vote, the US Supreme Court upheld the legality of dumping gold mine waste into Lower Slate Lake in Alaska’s Tongass National Forest instead of disposing of it in a special tailings pond. The next day, the Agriculture Secretary announced nearly $20m dollars of federal stimulus funds to be spent on mine waste clean-ups, including $2.8m to Alaska. Meanwhile, the Clean Water Act in any of its various guises does not apply to the Alaskan lake about to receive 4.5 million tons of highly contaminated mine tailings.

First to the Supreme Court decision:

 “The ruling clears the way for as much as 4.5 million tons of mine tailings — waste left after metals are extracted from the ore — to be dumped into the lake,” reported the  Associated Press.

Not all of the justices were behind it. AP reported

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