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Supreme Court ruling allows gold mine to dump waste in lake

The U.S. Supreme Court's Monday decision allowing a gold mine near Juneau to discharge its waste into a fish-bearing lake could be the final word in the long-running dispute.

But environmentalists hope that it is not.

Their lawsuit over the Kensington mine, 45 miles northwest of Juneau, fueled a bitter war between industry boosters and environmentalists in the state's capital.

Statewide, the suit cast a shadow over Alaska's mining industry, and in particular, the massive Pebble copper and gold prospect in Southwest Alaska.

On Monday, Kensington's supporters – including the entire Alaska congressional delegation and Gov. Sarah Palin – hailed the Supreme Court decision as a positive step for Juneau and the state.

Coeur Alaska Inc., operator of the Kensington mine, announced plans to begin producing gold in the last half of 2010.

But environmentalists say their fight is not over.

About 150 members of the U.S. House of Representatives are co-sponsoring legislation this year seeking to reverse the Bush administration policy that the Supreme Court relied on in its ruling Monday. Also, a coalition of environmental groups are pleading with the Obama administration to cancel the Bush policy.

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