Boise Headwaters Protection: Undermined
The Boise River is an essential part of life in southern Idaho, affecting the lives of residents, farmers, recreationalists, and tourists alike. Of the potential threats to the health of the Boise River, mining has some of the greatest potential for disastrous consequences. Mining, however, contributes to the local economy and cannot be dismissed out of hand. In order to address the issue, we took a look at three possible policy options: standards and fines w/ mineral royalties, taxes w/ mineral royalties, and a ban on mining. Banning was dismissed as a viable option and so we focused our attention on the other two. While standards and fines would guarantee the desired level of pollution, the advantages of a tax were too great to ignore. Additional revenue from the royalties and taxes not used to fund the oversight of mining operations could be used to clean-up mine tailings which continue to pollute the headwaters. This tax also has the advantage of scaling the revenue stream for oversight, as mining operations in Idaho expand and contract. This regime would result in consistent governmental oversight of mining operations and a cleaner Boise river.