The Daily Show with Jon Stewart aired this segment which featured GYC as well as phosphate mining, selenium poisoning and two-headed trout. Be sure to sign up for our E-News to learn more about this issue and how you can help.
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Idaho Waters: Protecting Highest Quality Streams and Rivers
Latest News: A federal court has ruled in our antidegradation case. We lost the battle but won the war on our challenge of the Environmental Protection Agency's approval of the state's definition of degradation in its antidegradation implementation rule. In a nutshell, the court ruled that Idaho must protect its highest-quality waters under Clean Water Act provisions. The state wanted to diminish protections to include only threats to swimming, boating, fishing and other uses. Basically, the court has told Idaho that it must adhere to GYC's demands and not allow any degradation of its highest-quality waters without Clean Water Act review.
Overview: Idaho is home to some of the most pristine rivers and streams in the contiguous United States. Idaho’s rivers support five species of native trout – Yellowstone cutthroat, Bonneville cutthroat, westslope cutthroat, redband, and bull trout – and also support spawning of anadromous species of Chinook salmon, sockeye salmon and steelhead before they migrate to the Pacific Ocean.
These rivers support abundant wildlife, and offer endless recreational opportunities, including fishing, boating, swimming, kayaking, wildlife watching, and other activities. Idaho rivers in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem include the South Fork Snake, Henry's Fork, Teton, Blackfoot, and Bear rivers.
In 2011, the Environmental Protection Agency approved an anti-degradation implementation process meant to protect a state’s highest-quality clean waters, but the rule falls far short of meeting this goal. Rather than protect these cherished public resources, Idaho’s rule — proposed by the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality — allows project applicants to forego critical state and public processes that would determine the necessity of projects that would degrade the water quality or harm the uses of Idaho’s waters.
From GYC’s perspective, it appears this rule is more of a degradation rule than an anti-degradation rule.
In early 2012, Greater Yellowstone Coalition filed suit in Idaho federal district court against the Environmental Protection Agency for its approval of Idaho’s anti-degradation implementation process. This suit points out that the rule is not in conformance with the Clean Water Act, and will illegally allow projects to move forward without necessary state analyses and public processes. Our lawsuit comes on the heels of numerous projects that could be affected by this rule, including the proposal of a phosphate mine on the Blackfoot River.
Project Goals: To ensure protection of Idaho’s rivers and streams and the fish and wildlife that depend upon them.
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