Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Unintended consequences?

1. I've never been a big believer of this but I can't make up my mind after this article:

In the surrounding steep valleys, hundreds of defunct silver and gold mines pock the slopes with log-framed portals and piles of waste rock. When water flows over the exposed, mineral-laden rock in and around the mines, it dissolves zinc, cadmium, lead, and other metals. The contaminated water, sometimes becoming acidic enough to burn skin, then dumps into nearby streams. So-called acid mine drainage, most of it from abandoned boom-time relics, pollutes an estimated 12,000 miles of streams throughout the West—about 40 percent of western waterways. ...

... But as these volunteers prepare to tackle the main source of the pollution, the mines themselves, they face an unexpected obstacle—the Clean Water Act. Under federal law, anyone wanting to clean up water flowing from a hard-rock mine must bring it up to the act’s stringent water-quality standards and take responsibility for containing the pollution—forever. Would-be do-gooders become the legal “operators” of abandoned mines like those near Silverton, and therefore liable for their condition.

2. Should FOIA apply to journalists?

... does the press always get to decide whose secrets trump? What bothers me most about the cult of the source is the press’s insistence on its right to ignore due process of law and refuse to reveal sources even after the issue has been fully litigated. Fine: appeal it up to the Supreme Court if you want, but in a democracy with an (all but) uncorrupted judiciary, if you ultimately lose, you should obey the law as it is, not as you would like it to be.

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