Cleaning the Green Charge Up the Mines

For centuries, mining for precious metals and gems has often caused harm to the local people, wildlife, and environment. In the United States, for example, half the mercury contamination in San Francisco Bay is traceable to the 1849 California Gold Rush. In Colorado, U.S. taxpayers have paid hundreds of millions of dollars to contain contamination in one town’s local rivers from a 1990s-bankrupt gold mine. In Montana, years of outsiders’ heap-leach gold mining on the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation left its water fouled. The U.S. West is “pockmarked by huge [mining] craters,” some visible from space, and there are “tens of thousands of abandoned mines, many emitting an orange-red, acid-laced runoff called 'yellow boy’ [that has] poisoned more than 16,000 miles of Western streams,” reported the Seattle Post-Intelligencer in 2001. In Papua New Guinea, local leaders sued a U
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