Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
Montana news about the environment, natural resources, wildlife, climate change and more.

State review board asks feds to invalidate selenium standards for Lake Koocanusa

The Montana Board of Environmental Review is asking federal regulators to invalidate a water quality standard aimed at reducing pollution flowing into Montana from Canadian coal mines.

In a letter to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the governor-appointed Board of Environmental Review is once again claiming the Lake Koocanusa selenium standard is invalid.

Teck Resources, which owns the Canadian coal mines that are the source of selenium pollution, and Lincoln County commissioners in Montana have pushed for over a year for the environmental review board to invalidate the standard.

This comes as tribes from Montana, Idaho and British Columbia push for International Joint Commission involvement under the U.S.-Canada Boundary Waters Treaty to stop pollution from the mines.

The pollution standard sets rules for how much selenium is acceptable in the lake. The toxin is known to harm fish reproduction

Earlier this year, state environmental board officials voted to overturn the current rule, saying it didn’t follow federal standards. However, the Montana Department of Environmental Quality and the EPA have kept it in place, having previously approved of the pollution standard.

DEQ said the board doesn’t have the power to invalidate the rule and that its claims don’t merit review by the agency or the EPA.

The EPA said in a statement that it is reviewing the board’s letter.

Aaron graduated from the University of Minnesota School of Journalism in 2015 after interning at Minnesota Public Radio. He landed his first reporting gig in Wrangell, Alaska where he enjoyed the remote Alaskan lifestyle and eventually moved back to the road system as the KBBI News Director in Homer, Alaska. He joined the MTPR team in 2019. Aaron now reports on all things in northwest Montana and statewide health care.
Become a sustaining member for as low as $5/month
Make an annual or one-time donation to support MTPR
Pay an existing pledge or update your payment information