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Supreme Court Back Corps in Dispute with EPA in Alaska

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The U.S. Supreme Court ruled on June 22 that mine wastewater slurry can be pumped into an Alaskan lake under the Clean Water Act. The 6-3 decision in Coeur Alaska Inc. vs. Southeast Alaska Conservation Council reverses a 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that the mining company’s permit violated the Clean Water Act. The case centered on the question of whether the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers or the Environmental Protection Agency had authority over activity in the Lower Slate Lake in the Tongass National Forest. Following the enactment of a Bush administration rule in 2002, the Corps issued a permit to Coeur d’Alene Mines Corp. to pump 200,000 gal per day of wastewater directly into the lake.

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