Shoshone-Bannock in Idaho fight and win against corporate environmental racism

Here is a staggering example of greed, corporate arrogance, justice delayed, and environmental racism.

Dating back to 1949, the FMC Corporation and its predecessors ran a phosphorus mining and processing plant on land within the Shoshone-Bannock Fort Hall Reservation in Idaho, the largest such operation in the world. Phosphorus is a key ingredient in such things as fertilizer. The mining and processing phosphorus also generates toxic waste. Short-sighted business practices resulted in contamination of tribal lands and water. The U.S. government declared it a Superfund site in 1990 and FMC ceased operations in 2001.

According to a 1998 deal struck by the Fort Hall Reservation and FMC, the company agreed to a $1.5 million annual fee for storing its hazardous waste on the Reservation lands. A mere three years later, when FMC stopped actively processing phosphorus, the company stopped paying its annual fee, according to court records. (FMC’s magical thinking seemed to be: Now that we closed the plant, we are no longer responsible for the ruin we left behind.)

The Shoshone Bannock Nation fought FMC in tribal and U.S. courts for years and won an important victory this month, with a decision that upholds tribal sovereignty. Here’s the story. Continue reading