Tester Pushes to Protect Health of Lake Koocanusa

Following Visit to Libby, Tester Urges Obama Administration to Address Canadian Pollution Concerns

(Big Sandy, Mont.)-Following his visit to Libby last week, Senator Jon Tester is continuing his push to protect Lake Koocanusa, a major driver of northwest Montana’s economy.

In a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry, Tester urged the administration to take steps to protect the Kootenai River watershed in northwest Montana, which is currently being threatened by the expansion of coal mining in the Elk River Valley of British Columbia.

“Montana and British Columbia share abundant natural resources and each of our respective economies depend on world-class opportunities for fishing and other forms of outdoor recreation,” Tester wrote. “The long-term health of the Elk River and Kootenai River watersheds is critically important, and we must address the full scope of potential impacts to Montana’s water quality.”

Tester sat down with local leaders in Libby last week to discuss the potential impact that the pollution of Lake Koocanusa would have on the region’s economy.

In 2014, Montana Department of Environmental Quality and U.S Geological Survey officials found increased levels of contamination in Lake Koocanusa-including selenium, nitrates, sedimentation, and other impairments associated with coal mining in Canada.

Last year, Tester was approached by local organizations and Native American Tribes to express concern that increased coal mining in British Columbia would further put the fish and habitat of Lake Koocanusa at risk.

Montana’s outdoor recreation economy sustains over 64,000 jobs and generates $6 billion annually.

Tester’s letter to Secretary Kerry is available HERE.