EPA slams ‘lax’ air quality permit for proposed Idaho gold mine

Aug 29, 2023

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has sent a letter and accompanying document to the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality criticizing an air quality permit issued to the proposed Stibnite gold mine. In the letter, EPA Region 10 Administrator Casey Sixkiller writes that the EPA “continues to be concerned that construction and operation of the Stibnite Gold Project under the terms set out in the Department’s Permit would not comply with the Clean Air Act.” The letter points out several flaws in the analysis conducted and conclusions reached by the department when considering whether to issue the permit.

“For EPA to get involved, they really have to think this is a serious issue because at this point it is supposed to be a state process,” said Julie Thrower, an attorney for Save the South Fork Salmon, which, along with the Nez Perce Tribe and the Idaho Conservation League, is contesting the permit. A hearing is scheduled for September 21st.

The Stibnite project was featured in a recent report from the Center for Western Priorities, Backyard Problems, which highlights sites across the West where mining companies as well as oil and gas producers have left toxic messes that have yet to be cleaned up, as well as sources of pollution that may never be fully eliminated. The report also argues, and the Stibnite air quality permit underscores, that environmental protection laws are only as good as their enforcement.

Digging into our 2023 Winning the West poll results

In the latest episode of the Center for Western Priorities podcast, The Landscape, Kate and Aaron are joined by pollster Lindsay Vermeyen, senior vice president at Benenson Strategy Group, and Center for Western Priorities Executive Director Jennifer Rokala to dig into the results of our 2023 Winning the West poll. Spoiler alert: Western voters really love public lands, and they want to see them protected. Kate and Aaron also recap some of the great public lands and conservation news that came out in August.

Quick hits

Residential development stalled after wells plugged decades ago start leaking oil and gas

Colorado Sun

Voters support Arizona’s public lands, according to survey


Feds to drop lawsuit over shipping container border wall, but damage will cost Arizonans another $2.1 million

Arizona Capitol Times

Two months after train derailment, petroleum asphalt remains in Yellowstone River

Associated Press

Tools born from fracking fuel geothermal rush

New York Times

Colorado Parks & Wildlife provides updates on wolf restoration plan


Indigenous youth connect to land, elders, and careers in the outdoors

Wyoming Public Radio

Opinion: ‘Vigorous standards’ needed to govern pipelines

Durango Herald

Quote of the day

All plugged wells face the risks of corrosion, degrading cement. They are all ticking time bombs.”

—Anthony Ingraffea, Cornell University, Colorado Sun

Picture This

A turquoise lake with dead wood in the foreground, trees behind the lake and a mountain in the background


Maybe she’s born with it, maybe it’s glacial flour…or maybe algae? Or maybe the color of the local bedrock? Lakes can be all sorts of different colors: blue, green, turquoise, red, brown. Mud brought in by heavy rainfall can turn water brown and dust from rocks crushed by glaciers can turn water turquoise; algae can turn water green or red or white. They can have all sorts of different reasons for their colors, and all sorts of reasons for changing color throughout the year. Lake Teresa, along the Alpine Lakes Loop at Great Basin National Park, tends to be turquoise.

Image: A small turquoise lake sits among tall, straight spruce trees beneath the rocky slopes of Wheeler Peak. A more rounded limber pine interrupts the view on the right side, behind a pile of brush and cut logs. The sky is dark and cloudy, as if it might rain at any moment, but some sun is shining on the trees at the edge of the lake. Photo Credit: D. LaBounty

Featured image: The Stibnite gold mine area in Idaho, EcoFlight