Mining and Water Pollution: The Experience of Two Copper Districts in Michigan and New Mexico

Carol Ann MacLennan, Professor, Department of Social Sciences, Michigan Technological University, Houghton, Michigan, and Ethel-Jane Westfeldt Bunting Summer Scholar, SAR

Colloquium, SAR Boardroom

Wednesday, July 9, 2014, 12:00–1:00 pm, Free

Carol Ann MacLennanCarol Ann MacLennan2014 Ethel-Jane Westfeldt Bunting Summer Scholar. Photograph courtesy of Carol Ann MacLennan.Carol Ann MacLennan2014 Ethel-Jane Westfeldt Bunting Summer Scholar. Photograph courtesy of Carol Ann MacLennan.

Two copper mining communities in the Keweenaw Peninsula of Michigan on Lake Superior and the desert southwest near Silver City, New Mexico, have deep histories of mineral extraction and pollution spanning over 150 years. This presentation investigates the experiences with mining waste from copper production in water-rich and water-scarce environments. MacLennan explores what mining waste is toxic to humans and environment; how toxics circulate in different watered environments; and how public policy defines harm, risk, and adequate reclamation strategies. In both Michigan and New Mexico, local communities have worked with state and federal officials to mitigate human exposure to mine waste and environmental damage. McLennan discusses how their experiences have differed.

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