Independence Daze

Southeast Idaho’s Phosphate Legacy

Monsanto is a leader in industrial agriculture. Here is another one of their projects that is destroying precious ecosystems by the minute.


by Jeremiah Watt


Flipping through travel planners and vacation ads, southeast Idaho sounds much like the glorious west of old. A wild untarnished space, home to elk, moose, deer, and many other species of wildlife, with hundreds of miles of rivers and creeks, all bursting with wild native trout. It is. Or at least was.

Currently, it’s home to 17 Superfund sites, thanks to phosphate mining giants Simplot, Agrium, Monsanto and others. The phosphate here is primarily used as fertilizer and the herbicide RoundUp. 16,987 acres have been mined with an additional 7,340 acres slated for development. In addition 15,000 acres have been leased and 50,000 acres are identified as containing economically viable phosphate reserves. In total 2,500 square miles – an area larger than Rhode Island – have the potential to be permanently scarred or destroyed from the effects of phosphate mining. Ninety-five percent of this land…

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2 thoughts on “Southeast Idaho’s Phosphate Legacy

  1. I really appreciate you re-posting this. I didn’t know where phosphate came from, and it’s no big surprise to see that ecosystems are being destroyed at another level of our unsustainable agricultural system. However, it’s disconcerting nonetheless to see that areas of the country that one would consider to be untouchable by agriculture (arid high plains and mountains) are affected because of the raw resources they contain. And despite the fact that Obama is ostensibly more environmentally concerned than Romney, I really doubt Monsanto and others like it will lose their lobbying power and ability to ravage our landscapes wherever they like anytime soon, probably not until there is a real crisis that affects ordinary Americans.

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