Take action to protect Washington watersheds from Canadian mines

Take action to protect Washington watersheds from Canadian mines

ConservationNWAdmin / Feb 05, 2020 / Healthy Watersheds, Mining, Protecting Wildlands

WILD NW Action Alert #300: Send a message to state representatives and Governor Inslee calling on them to pressure leaders in British Columbia to protect international watersheds from mining disasters.

The transboundary region of the United States and British Columbia (B.C.) has become a dangerous hotspot for toxic spills from the mining industry due to legacy, existing and proposed mines upstream of the four bordering states.

Most recently, a controversial proposal for mining in the headwaters of the Skagit River has generated an outcry from Washington tribes, conservationists, fishermen and elected leaders. Senate Joint Memorial 8014, currently moving through the State House, speaks to this important issue.

We’ve joined with Canadian groups, First Nations and other allies to launch a Healthy Watersheds Campaign calling for mining reform and financial assurances to protect downstream watersheds, fish and wildlife, and communities from mining disasters in Canada.

Join us in taking action by sending a message to Washington representatives and Governor Jay Inslee calling on them to pressure leaders in B.C. to protect international watersheds!

Toxic mud and tailings pond water devastated local ecosystems and runs of sockeye salmon after the 2014 Mount Polley Mine disaster.

The mining company submitting the exploratory application for the Skagit Headwaters, Imperial Metals, was responsible for the devastating Mount Polley mine disaster in 2014, the largest mining disaster in Canadian history. Millions of gallons of toxic mine tailings and contaminated mud decimated salmon runs and habitat in Fraser River tributaries, with restoration work still ongoing. Due to B.C.’s lax mining laws, Imperial Metals has still not faced any fines or paid mitigation to cover clean-up costs.

Their mine in the Skagit Headwaters, if developed, would threaten Puget Sound’s healthiest remaining runs of Chinook and sockeye salmon—vital food for southern resident orca whales as well as cherished resources for the Upper Skagit, Swinomish and Samish tribes.

According to reports by the B.C. provincial government, there are 33 mining exploration projects underway within a radius of about 60 miles of the province’s southern border. Many of these projects are just north of Washington state, others are in the upper reaches of rivers that drain into Alaska, Montana and Idaho.

This is an unacceptable risk for the Skagit, and for other transboundary rivers in the Pacific Northwest threatened by Canadian mines including the Similkameen, Kettle and Upper Columbia.

Please send a message to elected leaders today calling on them to take action this legislative session. Scroll down for suggested comments.

The B.C. government has made a promise to review and update mining regulations, including financial assurance policies. In addition, B.C. has recently stated its intention to support free, prior and informed consent for Indigenous communities for any projects in traditional First Nations territories.

Working with elected leaders and tribes, we are taking advantage of this window of opportunity to push Washington state to demand accountability from Canadian mining companies through mining reform.

Please join us in taking action!

Suggested comments to state legislators and Governor Inslee on B.C. mining reform

Use our action form or contact the Governor here.

Dear Honorable Governor Jay Inslee,

Please contact your counterpart in British Columbia, Premier John Horgan, calling on his government to make good on its promise to adopt a new financial assurances policy and make needed updates to reform mining regulations. Particular attention must be paid to projects in watersheds that flow downstream into the United States.

According to the B.C. provincial government, there are 33 mining exploration projects under way within a radius of about 60 miles of the province’s southern border. Many of these projects are just north of the Washington state border. Washington and other U.S. states abutting British Columbia are vulnerable to the lax regulatory, financial liability and enforcement mechanisms for industrial mining in B.C, as has been seen during past mining disasters including the 2014 spill at Mount Polley.

Most recently, a controversial proposal for mining in the headwaters of the Skagit River has generated an outcry from Washington tribes, conservationists, fishermen and elected leaders. The mine, if developed, would threaten Puget Sound’s healthiest remaining runs of Chinook and sockeye salmon—vital food for southern resident orca whales as well as cherished resources for the Upper Skagit, Swinomish and Samish tribes.

The province should pass a strong financial assurances regime that ensures environmental harms are eliminated and that communities on the both sides of the border are not left liable for mining pollution or spills.

The B.C. government has made a promise to review and update mining regulations, including financial assurance policies. Premier Horgan should make good on this promise and ensure that particular attention be paid to projects in watersheds that flow downstream into U.S. states.

I urge you as the Governor of Washington state to send a distinct and public message in the form a letter to the British Columbia provincial government outlining these concerns in the near term.

Sincerely,

YOUR NAME

Use our action form or find your state Senator and Reps here.

Dear State Representatives,

Please pass Senate Joint Memorial 8014 on behalf of the Skagit Headwaters. This important bill has deep support from local tribes, fisherman, conservationists and communities.

Please also support a broader memorial or legislative letter contacting your counterparts in British Columbia’s Legislative Assembly calling on the provincial government to institute new regulations on mining projects, including financial assurances. Particular attention must be paid to projects in watersheds that flow downstream into the United States.

According to the B.C. provincial government, there are 33 mining exploration projects under way within a radius of about 60 miles of the province’s southern border. Most of these projects are just north of the Washington state border. Washington and other U.S. states abutting British Columbia are vulnerable to the lax regulatory, financial liability and enforcement mechanisms for industrial mining in B.C, as has been seen during past mining disasters including the 2014 spill at Mount Polley.

Most recently, a controversial proposal for mining in the headwaters of the Skagit River has generated an outcry from Washington tribes, conservationists, fishermen and elected leaders. The mine, if developed, would threaten Puget Sound’s healthiest remaining runs of Chinook and sockeye salmon—vital food for southern resident orca whales as well as cherished resources for the Upper Skagit, Swinomish and Samish tribes. SJM 8014 speaks to this important issue.

The province should pass a strong financial assurances regime that ensures environmental harms are eliminated and that communities on the both sides of the border are not left liable for mining pollution or spills.

The B.C. government has made a promise to review and update mining regulations, including financial assurance policies. The Legislative Assembly and Premier Horgan should make good on this promise and ensure that particular attention be paid to projects in watersheds that flow downstream into U.S. states.

I urge you as senators and representatives of the Washington State Legislature to pass SJM 8014 and to send a distinct and public message in the form a memorial or letter to the British Columbia provincial government outlining these concerns in the near term.

Sincerely,

YOUR NAME

Learn more about our HEALTHY WATERSHEDS CAMPAIGN. Or read more about work to protect the SKAGIT HEADWATERS.
The stunning peaks and forests of the Skagit Headwaters; no place for a massive new mine. Photo: Wilderness Committee