The Supreme Court ruled Monday that the Clean Water Act does not prevent the Army Corps of Engineers from allowing mining waste to be dumped into rivers, streams and other waters.
In a 6-to-3 decision that drew fierce criticism from environmentalists, the court said the Corps of Engineers had the authority to grant Coeur Alaska Inc., a gold mining company, permission to dump the waste known as slurry into Lower Slate Lake, north of Juneau.
“We conclude that the corps was the appropriate agency to issue the permit and that the permit is lawful,” Justice Anthony M. Kennedy wrote for the majority.
The corps permit, issued in 2005, said that 4.5 million tons of waste from the Kensington mine could be dumped into the lake even though it would obliterate life in its waters. The corps found that disposing of it there was less environmentally damaging than other options.
I don’t know about the specific case enough to really discuss this, and I can’t verify if the author of this piece took some rhetorical license when stating it will “obliterate” all life in the water. Likewise, I don’t know what kind of life there was in the water, but since it is Alaska I am presuming it was somewhat pristine.
But here is the question, and one of the things I have never really understood. I don’t know why, so often these issues (and I’m not necessarily talking about the ruling, which seems to me to not be about the issue itself, but who has the right to make the decision), there is a clear left v. right split. Obviously I understand the business interests at play, but what I don’t understand is that surely there have to be some on the right who say to themselves “Hrmm. Dumping 4.5 million tons of toxic shit in the lake is going to be expensive in the long run.” That would seem to me to be the “conservative” position.
I truly do not understand this, and you see it played out in West Virginia a lot with mountaintop removal and other mining issues when tons of, well, shit, is just dumped in creeks and rivers. Why is this an ideological issue? Why is it that anyone who says “killing all the wildlife in this lake might be a bad idea” becomes a de facto granola eating DFH? Why is it not considered conservative to say “this could cost us a lot in the long run, not just monetarily, but in terms of other measures.” Surely there have to be people in agribusiness and property rights advocates who oppose this sort of thing, and they can’t be considered “teh left.” I also understand that there are folks on the fringes of the environmental left who would shut down all business, if they could. Clearly there is a need for balance.
I understand why it is now- ideological lines are rigid, and anything members of “teh left” oppose members of “teh right” support, and vice versa. If Obama and the Democrats came out in favor of puppy kisses and free ice cream, the NRO would have a hundred op-ed pieces declaring puppy kisses to be the vanguard of the incipient liberal fascism. But how did it get this way? Why is not wanting 4.5 tons of toxic shit dumped into your lake considered “liberal?” Does anyone have a book that might explain things? Is there a religious component or something that I do not understand?