Cantwell, Western Senators Call for Action on Transboundary Mining Issues

Senators ask British Columbia to protect transboundary water quality

WASHINGTON, D.C.  – Today, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) joined the bipartisan U.S. Senate delegations of Washington, Alaska, Idaho, and Montana to send a letter to Premier John Horgan of British Columbia (B.C.) urging attention and action on key issues related to transboundary mining practices. The letter encourages standards of oversight and accountability for B.C. development projects that are similar to what is required on the U.S. side of the border and expresses a desire for continued communication and engagement. 

“As you know, Alaska, Washington, Idaho, and Montana have tremendous natural resources that need to be protected against impacts from B.C. hardrock and coal mining activities near the headwaters of shared rivers,” the lawmakers wrote to Premier Horgan. “These transboundary watersheds support critical water supply, recreation opportunities, and wildlife habitat that support many livelihoods in local communities.” 

The letter highlights continued work in Congress to address these concerns and urges Premier Horgan to meaningfully engage on the issue while working towards solutions with stakeholders, affected states, and the federal governments on both sides of the U.S.-Canada border. 

“We have both an opportunity and a responsibility to better manage our critical shared resources in a cooperative, constructive manner,” the letter reads. “We seek your direct engagement on these matters and ask for you to undertake, alongside your federal counterparts, dedicated efforts to monitor transboundary water quality. We look forward to working with you to address the challenges posed to the economies, cultures, and resources of our great region.” 

In their letter, the members highlight past and current efforts by the U.S. to protect lands and waters in the face of potential environmental and economic impacts resulting from large-scale mines in B.C., including the recent appropriation of funding for stream gauges in transboundary rivers to provide for better monitoring and water quality data. 

“We appreciate the diverse array of benefits that responsible management of our shared watersheds can bring, and view this as an opportunity to engage and collaborate toward a mutually beneficial future,” the senators said. 

This multi-state, bipartisan letter follows multiple letters to the Department of State over the last five years expressing concerns about B.C. mining practices and potential downstream effects on U.S. resources and livelihoods. Just last month, Senator Cantwell led a letter from Washington’s congressional delegation to voice opposition to a proposed mine in the headwaters of the Upper Skagit River in B.C. due to its potential impact on Washington state. 

In addition to Cantwell, today’s letter was also signed by U.S. Senators Patty Murray (D-WA), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Dan Sullivan (R-AK), Mike Crapo (R-ID), Jim Risch (R-ID), Jon Tester (D-MT), and Steve Daines (R-MT). 

The full text of the letter is available HERE.