Mining leaves Idaho choking

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.


In the Idaho panhandle, where government is the enemy, the mining industry has enjoyed a century of mostly profitable and largely unregulated business which has left the surrounding ecology poisoned and many local residents deathly ill. This month the US State Department and the Couer d’Alene Tribal Council will fight back in court with a $1 billion lawsuit, according to CASCADIA TIMES.

Recent Must Reads

1/6 – Censorship U.

1/5 – New economy, old salary gaps

1/4 – Icy goodbye from Ben and Jerry?

1/3 – Israel’s US spin doctors The plaintiffs say that the companies dumped hundreds of millions of tons of hazardous wastes — including lead, arsenic, and cadmium — in the Coeur d’ Alene River basin over the last century, and should be forced to foot the bill for cleaning it up.

People living near the mines have reported health problems they attribute to lead poisoning. In 1974, a Couer d’Alene child was found to have the highest blood level of lead ever recorded. Shoshone County, where many of the mines are (or were) ranks first in Idaho for cancers associated with arsenic poisoning, including cancers of the bladder, kidney, colon and larynx.

The battle is an uphill one for environmentalists. “This is a region that is frighteningly anti-government,” says Bob Bostwick, a spokesman for the Coeur d’ Alene Tribal Council. “They seem to be mad at everyone except the mining industry that dumped this stuff on top of them.”

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

We Recommend

Latest