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SCOTUS hears Montana Superfund case

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Rockies Today

December 2 · Issue #44 · View online
The big stories up and down the Rocky Mountains, curated by Mountain West News

SCOTUS hears Montana Superfund case
The U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments this week in a Montana dispute whose outcome could have broad ramifications for Superfund cleanups nationwide. Here’s Butte’s Kathleen McLaughlin reporting for The Washington Post, and more coverage of the high-stakes case:
A tiny town’s long struggle to rid itself of toxic waste reaches the Supreme Court A tiny town’s long struggle to rid itself of toxic waste reaches the Supreme Court
After more than a decade of court battles, the Supreme Court on Tuesday will hear residents’ case against the property’s current owner. Theirs is more than just a David vs. Goliath confrontation — a rural community of 700 against Arco, a subsidiary of the oil giant BP — because of its potential for upending one of the nation’s key environmental laws.
Opportunity and its even smaller neighbor, Crackerville, want the justices to uphold a Montana Supreme Court ruling that found federal Superfund law does not override this state’s constitutionally guaranteed right to a “clean and healthful environment.” Arco, which appealed the decision, says it has already spent $470 million to reduce arsenic levels in the area. The towns say an additional $58 million is needed to lower those levels far more drastically.
The outcome of Atlantic Richfield Co. v. Christian holds significance well beyond this scenic valley in southwest Montana. Arco, as it is now known, argues that allowing individuals to sue in state court for greater cleanup than federal regulators require would nullify a key component of the Superfund program.
“The decision threatens the integrity of every future [Superfund] settlement EPA enters,” Arco has warned. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and several industry groups agree, predicting “chaos” for sites nationwide should Opportunity prevail.
“It’s a really long struggle,” said Serge Myers, who in the early 2000s helped spearhead a citizens’ movement that led to the lawsuit. He is now a 74-year-old great-grandfather. “We only have one lifetime, and the corporations have forever. We just want our yard to be clean and healthy for our kids.”
Superfund, Montanans’ cleanup demands clash at Supreme Court
Environmental cleanup case tests state, federal control
Argument preview: Justices to consider whether CERCLA bars state lawsuit to restore hazardous-waste site
A pipeline and peaceful assembly
Keystone XL: police discussed stopping anti-pipeline activists 'by any means' Keystone XL: police discussed stopping anti-pipeline activists 'by any means'
Meanwhile…
Keystone oil spill casts doubt on the safety of proposed Keystone XL pipeline
More energy news from around the region:
Work on eastern Wyoming pipeline begins
Colorado taxpayers losing out on hundreds of millions of dollars from federal oil, gas leases, says report by advocacy group
The search for solutions to flaring in Wyoming
$20M in repairs needed at Colstrip Unit 4, regulators say
Platte River Power: Better battery storage needed to meet 100% renewable energy goals
Climate change strains Colorado dams
Colorado rethinks dam safety as climate change heightens risk for state's 27 'unsatisfactory' structures Colorado rethinks dam safety as climate change heightens risk for state's 27 'unsatisfactory' structures
Map: Colorado has more than 400 "high hazard" dams, and 27 of them are deficient
Boise's light noise
As Boise grows, so does its light pollution—and that may affect Idaho dark sky areas As Boise grows, so does its light pollution—and that may affect Idaho dark sky areas
This from Vice News, published in January:
Clear, dark skies are disappearing in the U.S. — except rural Idaho
Species on thin ice
Trump administration sued for dragging its feet on endangered species Trump administration sued for dragging its feet on endangered species
More wildlife news:
Rare Glacier stoneflies gain federal protection
Idaho utility will dismiss lawsuit against EPA over dams
Oregon Court of Appeals upholds wolf delisting
Lawmakers consider chronic wasting disease task force
The link between marine fog and high levels of mercury in mountain lions
What else we're reading today
‘It’s like the third world’: Tribe feels forgotten as flooding brings misery to a struggling community
Most Americans say climate change impacts their community, but effects vary by region
Yellowstone counters criticism of proposal to expand Wi-Fi in the park
Forest Service wants judge to lift injunction on Bozeman timber project
Utah ski resorts yanking proposed land swaps from Central Wasatch National Conservation and Recreation Area bill
Is cloud seeding the answer to Montana farmers' drought woes?
Three western North Dakota newspapers ceased publication on Friday
Rockies Today is edited by Matthew Frank, Fellow in Regional Journalism at the O’Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West at the University of Montana.
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O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West, University of Montana, Missoula, Montana, 59812