Rich Moy spent over 30 years working in water policy, planning and management in Montana and regionally and served as a U.S. commissioner on the International Joint Commission from 2011 to 2019. Ric Hauer is professor emeritus at the University of Montana and Flathead Lake Biological Station. Both have worked on Canadian mining issues since the late 1970s.
An international group of science and policy experts from the United States and Canada recently published a letter in the prestigious journal Science voicing concern for the poisoning of U.S. rivers stemming from Canadian headwaters. The source of the contamination? Hard-rock and coal mining.
We’ve known about the toxins flowing from British Columbia into downstream states for decades. However, the poisoning of U.S. waters from Canadian mining is about to get dramatically worse and will go on for centuries if it is not stopped, and stopped before it’s too late.
The Science article urged immediate action calling on the United States and Canada to jointly invoke the Boundary Waters Treaty of 1909 to resolve several transboundary water disputes.
This would not be the first time U.S. citizens have looked to that treaty for protection from British Columbia’s mining industry. In 1985, a science panel convened by the treaty’s International Joint Commission (IJC) concluded that proposed Canadian coal mines along Glacier National Park’s northern border threatened irreparable damage to both the Park and to downstream U.S. communities.
Additionally, the Commission recommended that no new mine could be built until the impacts could be mitigated to the satisfaction of both countries.