EPA wants the dam to release clean, treated water.
The dam built to keep selenium and heavy metals also blocks water flows to the Blackfoot River.
EPA concerned about Monsanto pollution control dam.
By JOHN MILLER – Associated Press
The dam built to keep selenium and heavy metals also blocks water flows to the Blackfoot River.
EPA concerned about Monsanto pollution control dam.
By JOHN MILLER – Associated Press
The New World Mine was proposed to be built just north of Yellowstone National Park in 1990 by a Canadian mining company but it received a lot of opposition because it greatly threatened the headwaters of the Clark Fork of the Yellowstone and Soda Butte Creek which flows into Yellowstone National Park from the northeast.
President Bill Clinton fought the mine and a settlement was reached in 1996 but the mining claims were still held by private interests. The Trust for Public Land has purchased the last of these claims and now the threat of the mines is finally gone.
The 1872 Mining Act needs to be changed so that mining companies cannot extort the American taxpayers or others by threatening to mine such sensitive areas.
New World Mine claims all purchased.
The Whiskey Mountain Bighorn Sheep Locatable Mineral Withdrawal may be extended to protect bighorn sheep habitat from development for another 20 years. The herd there is estimated to be about 1,000 bighorn.
Feds propose extending minerals extraction ban on bighorn habitat.
Casper Star Tribune
Although the first article below has a somewhat pessimistic tone, this certainly seems better than the current trend in boreal Canada. There is more value to the vast boreal forest than caribou.
Caribou still at risk under historic forestry deal. Industry, environmentalists band together for sustainability. By Hanneke Brooymans, edmontonjournal.com
-Ducks Unlimited is plenty happy. DU celebrates boreal wetlands protection announcement. Vital wetland systems in Canada’s Boreal Forest conserved.
This pact will not stop the biggest threat in the area, the open pit mining of “tar sands,” conversion of which into synthetic oil is tremendously polluting and has relatively poor net energy efficiency.
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*Methane, CH4, is a much more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, CO2
This would be a precedent setting decision that would eliminate access to this land and limit input into how it is managed.
Agency mulls selling public land for mine
TODD DVORAK – Associated Press
It probably isn’t because Judge Molloy both ruled for and against conservationists on their variety of claims, but it does send the Forest Service’s decision to approve the mine back to square one.
Molloy blocks mine beneath Cabinet Mountains Wilderness. By Michael Jamison. Missoulian
Info on the fight against the Rock Creek Mine.
3/30/2010. More on the ruling. Court Blocks Mine in Montana’s Cabinet Mountains Wilderness. ENS
Well what a cause for celebration this is! I can remember I was just starting to explore the wild country as a young man back in 1974 when Sage Creek Coal proposed a big coal mine on Cabin Creek, a tributary to the North Fork of the Flathead. In 2008 I was standing in this incredible place and pondering how awful the giant coal pit and adjacent coalbed methane wells would be. I never suspected the B.C. government would side with conservation on this.
B.C’s ban on industrial development in N. Fork Flathead ends a 36-year international struggle. By Michael Jamison. Missoulian.
Although the article below writes of the headwaters of the Yellowstone. It is actually Soda Butte Creek and the Clark’s Fork of the Yellowstone.
They have been poking around and doing some mining here since the 19th Century. In the 1990s, there was a serious attempt at a giant gold mine right there on Henderson Mountain. One of the crowning achievements of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition was killing this mine and securing money for a general cleanup of the area.
This mining area his leaked acidic, heavy metals into Yellowstone Park for over a hundred years.
I’m very pleased to read this.
Cleanup at Yellowstone headwaters hailed. By Brett French. Billings Gazette.
I have been worried about this for years, and posted many articles. Every month is seemed a new, massive environmentally destructive scheme was proposed for the North Fork.
Now British Columbia Lt. Gov. Steven Point says the North Fork Flathead River drainage will be off limits to mining and energy extraction in a speech to the B.C. Parliament. Let’s hope the details don’t have loopholes.
British Columbia declares Canadian North Fork off limits to mining, energy development. By Rob Chaney. Missoulian
New article added on 2-11-2010. British Columbia Bans Mining, Drilling in Flathead River Valley. Environment News Service. This article gives additional information efforts to further protect area, something that was raised in the comments.
Photos (with locations)
This no “family ranch” but a spin-off of Freeport-McMoRan mining.
|♦Western Watersheds Project’s Arizona Office has been granted Summary Judgment byAdministrative Law Judge Harvey C. Sweitzer in a successful appeal of a grazing permit decision issued by the Kingman Field Office, Bureau of Land Management.
♦Judge Sweitzer agreed with WWP that the BLM violated the National Environmental Policy Act on the Big Sandy, Los Molinos, and Diamond Joe Allotments (collectively called the “Byner Complex”).
♦The successful Appeal and Motion for Summary Judgment were written by WWP’s Arizona Director Greta Anderson.
The rancher on the allotments is not a ranching family at all but a subsidiary of Freeport-McMoRan Copper Company, the Byner Cattle Company. Freeport-McMoRan is one of the world’s largest copper and gold mining companies http://www.fcx.com/
♦The 98,736 acres of public lands in the Byner Complex encompass a range of vegetation communities, including Joshua trees and saguaros, and provide habitat for Southwestern willow flycatcher, bald eagle, yellow-billed cuckoo, Sonoran desert tortoise, and other native and imperiled wildlife.
♦The Big Sandy River passes through the Big Sandy allotment, and numerous seeps and springs and ephemeral washes occur on all of the allotments.
♦The Byner Complex of allotments has some serious rangeland health issues, and the proposed action sought to limit livestock impacts in some key areas by moving livestock to new unexploited areas through the development of new water sources. To do this, the BLM had proposed building five new wells, eleven new troughs, twelve new miles of pipeline and fifteen new miles of fence, which all could have extensive effects on the landscape and the riparian areas.
♦The BLM failed to analyze or even disclose the descriptions of the new water facilities. Administrative Law Judge Sweitzer found the BLM’s behavior to be in violation of the National Environmental Policy Act.This legal decision remands the final grazing decision to the Kingman, Arizona field office of the BLM to redo its analysis before issuing a new grazing decision.
♦The new analysis will need to address the failures of the BLM to analyze many issues including the effects on native ecosystems of invasive species introduced by livestock, the inadequacies of setting rangeland health goals based on existing conditions, the failure to exclude grazing in sensitive riparian areas, the failure to consider effects to imperiled species, and the existing degraded condition of soils, cultural resources, and wildlife habitats.
♦WWP anticipates a more complete and detailed analysis of the Byner Complex allotments by the BLM the next time around !
— Read the Full Order
photo: USFWSYou Can Help
Southwestern willow flycatcher
|Western Watersheds Project Is A West Regional Conservation Organization Working To Protect And Restore Western Watersheds And Wildlife.
Consider joining Western Watersheds Project yourself or enrolling a friend with a gift membership. Joining is easy at WWP’s secure online membership pageBe sure to visit the WWP web site at http://www.westernwatersheds.org.
A state owned plane carrying Lt. Gov. Brad Little, Attorney General Lawrence Wasden, House Assistant Majority Leader Scott Bedke, deputy Attorney General Clive Strong, and mining lobbyist Jack Lyman for a tour of eastern Idaho phosphate mining areas was paid for by mining lobbyists. People aren’t too happy about it and some are crying foul because there was no one with differing views of the mining operations on board.
ID officials fly state plane, mining industry pays
John Miller – Associated Press
Our View: Officials should be careful with lobbying
This time, environmentalists are angered with Obama’s choice for Office of Surface Mining Reclamation, and Enforcement.
Enviros Blast Obama’s Choice for Office of Surface Mining – ENS
For the past 17 years Pizarchik has been engaged in Pennsylvania’s mining program, first as legal counsel and then as the director of the Bureau of Mining and Reclamation.
During his tenure at Pennsylvania’s Bureau of Mining and Reclamation, says [Jeff] Ruch [Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility], “Pizarchik has hewn a solidly pro-industry line on topics such as acid mine drainage, subsidence from longwall mining and using mining slag as valley fill.”
Mine ban at Canyon may fuel new fight By Shaun McKinnon and Erin Kelly. Azcentral.com
Polls show the state’s residents support the general position of Grijalva.
The Arizona Strip is a vast area of mostly BLM lands north of the Grand Canyon and south of the Utah border. Although there are backroads and grazing, it has almost no full time residents.
According to the Las Vegas Sun the battle over the huge mercury plume from the recently-closed (again) Jerritt Canyon mine is really over Nevada keeping control of regulating its gold mining industry.
Closing mine part of bigger battle. State wants to keep feds from regulating industry. Las Vegas Sun. By Lisa Mascaro
Well, of course. Nevada has a long history of exporting environmental harm to its neighbors. It didn’t begin with letting mercury poison blow into Idaho and Utah. They have plans underway to steal water from under Utah’s west desert and maybe even Idaho.
For years Nevada smelters sent toxic heavy metals and more traditional pollution into Idaho and Utah.In the late 1980s, there was a multi-billion dollar plan for a huge coal fired power plant in the extreme NE corner of Nevada where essentially all the pollution would blow out of the state.
The federal government itself used the Nevada desert as the site of open air atomic bomb testing whose radioactive fallout caused many cancer cases in Utah, Idaho, California, Montana, and places every further away.
Earlier. August 22, 2008. Mercury pollution investigation shuts down Nevada gold mine near Idaho border
March 16, 2008. Six Nevada gold mines are worse mercury polluters than Jerritt Canyon?
March 15, 2008. Nevada closes Jerritt Canyon Mine for mercury releases.
Thanks to Justin Hayes (Idaho Conservation League efforts), the incredibly toxic Jerrit Canyon gold mine in northern Nevada was shut down in 2008. I thought that was the end of this particular source of mercury pollution (more mercury than many coal fired power plants lumped together).
However, with little fanfare the mine started again in March 2009 with a promise to the state of Nevada to install pollution control by May 30. They didn’t, so they are shut down again. I wouldn’t count on them staying shut, however. Almost no one lives in the area, but the mercury blows north and northeast into Idaho. What incentive does Nevada have to keep them under control?
Nevada gold mine closed due to mercury emissions. By Scott Sonner. Business Week.
Rocky Barker analyzes the situation on his blog. Mercury spewing Nevada gold mine gets shut down again. Idaho Statesman.
It is important to note that there are many other Nevada gold pits pumping out mercur vapor. Jerritt Canyon was simply the worst one individually.
UN to hear petition. The Globe and Mail. By Mark Hume.
Earlier in this blog.
5/15/09. North Fork Flathead plight in U.N. spotlight
9/5/08. Another coal mine planned near the upper Flathead River?
6/9/08. Obama opposes B.C. coal mine near Glacier National Park
3/1/08. Bordering on Catastrophe (more on plans to industrialize the area near Glacier NP)
2/19/08. Montana leaders to get update on Canadian energy plans just north of the border
5/24/2007. Huge B.C. coal mine that would drain into Montana gets attention from Condoleeza Rice
What a coal pit mine in the Canadian Rockies looks like. This is about 20 miles NE near Sparwood, B. C.
Folks have been trying to change this law my entire life and long before that. Will this be the year? If so, how much can it be changed?
The Oregonian thinks change is now politically possible. The 1872 Act has long been regarded as one of the best examples of the dead hand of the past still governing Western public lands politics.
“Take a hammer to the 1872 Mining Act.” The Editorial Board of the Oregonian.
Obama’s EPA clears 42 of 48 New Mountaintop Removal Mining Permits
CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The Obama administration has cleared more than three-dozen new mountaintop removal permits for issuance by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, drawing quick criticism from environmental groups who had hoped the new president would halt the controversial practice.
Many of us hoped that with a new Department of Justice (DOJ), many of the most contentious and important environmental disputes governing environmental issues now held in the courts might be settled with a greater regard for this nation’s existing environmental laws – that’d mean progress. Think Progress has some unfortunate background information on Obama’s choice as top lawyer for the DOJ’s Natural Resource Division.
Obama Nominates Superfund Polluter Lawyer To Run DOJ Environment Division :
President Barack Obama has nominated a lawyer for the nation’s largest toxic polluters to run the enforcement of the nation’s environmental laws. On Tuesday, Obama “announced his intent to nominate” Ignacia S. Moreno to be Assistant Attorney General for the Environment and Natural Resources Division in the Department of Justice.
God help us, we’ve been rolled again ! There is no blaming this one on Salazar (as tempting as that might be) – it’s Obama, this appointment is would have been key as a legal check to Department of Interior and Department of Agriculture’s anti-environmental lawlessness.
I made a trip to the mine proposed area (and even worse coal bed methane wells) in British Columbia last summer. What a horrible place to do this! Other than the local fish and wildlife (and there is a lot), all the damage will be in Montana as the toxins flow over the border.
North Fork Flathead plight in U.N. spotlight. By Chris Peterson. Hungry Horse News.
Photo I took last summer. Headwaters of North Fork Flathead about a mile downstream from giant coal mine proposal
BLM authorizes Grand Canyon uranium exploration.By Eric Bontrager. New York Times.
BLM Defies Congress, Authorizes Grand Canyon Uranium Exploration. by Mcjoan. The Daily Kos. “This is not a positive development from Salazar’s Interior Department.”
In my view Obama’s public land policies are turning out to be no better than George W. Bush’s. What a disappointment!
Update May 9, 2009. Suit Challenges New Uranium Exploration That Threatens the Grand Canyon. Center for Biological Diversity.
Federal appeals court blocks mine expansion. By Rebecca Boone. AP.
I was told that
In summary, the appellate court:
1. Issued a stay of mine development activities;
2. Ruled that the Idaho magistrate judge erred in disregarding GYC’s demonstration of harm to the Sage Creek roadless area from mine develoment activities;
3. Sent the case back to the magistrate judge for reconsideration of the preliminary injunction issue in light of the threat of harm to the roadless area;
4. Ruled that GYC had raised very serious questions on the merits; and
5. Provided that any future appeals in this litigation will go back to the same 9th Circuit panel.
Earlier on this issue http://en.wordpress.com/tag/smoky-canyon-mine/
Group seeks halt to phosphate mine expansion in SE Idaho. By Gene Johnson. AP legal affairs writer
A lawyer for a group of environmentalists, landowners and outdoor enthusiasts asked a federal appeals court April 7 to at least temporarily block the expansion of a phosphate mine in southeastern Idaho…
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Note that on April 10, there was a big legal victory in the 9th Circuit court for the Greater Yellowstone Coalition and conservationists fighting this mine. I haven’t seen any media on it yet. Ralph Maughan
Former Interior Department official urges change to centuries-old mining law
By Hope Yen
Mining law reform considered in House
By Lisa Mascaro
Polluted mines as economic engines? Obama admin says ‘yes’
By Scott Streater
Barker: Industry rolls over mercury initiative .
Rocky Barker – Idaho Statesman
Mercury is an element that does not degrade to anything less harmful. It causes developmental problems in children and unborn fetuses and it accumulates in fish and other food sources making them unsafe to eat.
Silver Creek, one of Idaho’s most famed flyfishing streams, has fish with unsafe levels of mercury.
By Mark Jaffe – The Denver Post
Legislator takes aim at feds and ‘eco-terrorists’
By Bob Bernick Jr.
Salazar promises reform, but is it enough?
Since Ken Salazar took over as Interior secretary, his first order of business has been undoing the last business done by the outgoing Bush administration. Read More…
By David Frey, 2-04-09
Despite Obama’s seeming lack of interest in mining reform (probably due to prompting from Harry Reid), the chair of the House Natural Resources Committee is not detered.
Story in the Salt Lake Tribune. Report: Time for hard-rock mining companies to pay up. Bill’s sponsor says no free ride during economic crisis. By Thomas Burr.
Gold mines are doing well in the bad economy, and that is bad news for both the economy and the environment because they are terrible polluters. Moreover, the production of gold has no clear net economic benefit because it is mostly used as an alternative way of storing wealth (and a completely unproductive one at that).
During the primary election season when Obama first came out against significant reform of this land destroying, trillion* dollar give-away, I thought he had merely received bad advice. Raúl Grijalva’s fervent desire to end this law probably weighed heavily against him in consideration for the job as Secretary of Interior.
Interior nominee Salazar likely to push update, not overhaul, of mining law. By Lisa Mascaro. Las Vegas Sun.
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*That’s a trillion dollars over time, not an annual loss to the treasury
|Grijalva steps up to the plate and goes to bat against another Bush Interior “midnight regulation” aimed at looting sacred water for the Peabody Western Coal Company while tribes perform spiritual ceremonies.
Dang, if you listen close – that sounds like a John Prine endorsement to me !
Environmental groups want E. Idaho mine injunction. AP. Idaho Statesman.
It’s a classic jobs versus obvious, long lasting environmental damage spread over a wide area issue.
The major environmental issue is not the pit but the spreading leakage of selenium poisoning in the Snake River watershed. This potent toxin is already directly killing fish in and downstream from the SE Idaho phosphate field.
A fair number of good paying jobs in Pocatello (my home) depend on Simplot’s Smoky Canyon phosphate mine.
I have had the conservation viewpoint on my blogroll for some time. Caribou Clean Water Partnership.
Old mining claims have a nasty tendency to become remote, jarring, difficult-to-service trophy homes.
For years the Trust for Public Lands has helped move old mining claims (federal lands that were privatized and perhaps mined at one time) back into the public estate.
John Miller of the Associated Press has written a story about them. Conservationists, Forest Service buy up mines. AP.
The New York Times describes and warns of anti-public land and anti-conservation actions underway or contemplated by the worst Administration in American history (my view) in their last 2 1/2 months in office.
Last-Minute Mischief. Editorial by the New York Times.
– – – – –
Examples of what is happening-
Oct. 13. The great giveaway. Utah BLM swings the door wide for ATVs and energy development. High Country News.
Oct. 19. Federal Officials Seek to Relax Rules for Dumping Mine Waste. AP. New York Times.
Oct. 20. Las Vegas Sun editorial. Protect the Colorado River from Kempthorne. Uranium mining claims should be delayed pending regional environmental review.
Few creeks were as polluted by mining as Silver Bow Creek near Butte, but after about a century trout, some as big as 18 inches are back.
Associated Press story. After a century, trout return to Silver Bow Creek, Montana
Salah Palin may have violated state law when she tried to divorce herself from the fact that she was governor to register her opposition to a ballot referendum designed to kill the Pebble Mine.
She basically endorsed the controversial Pebble mine that could destroy the world class sport and commercial fisheries of the Bristol Bay area (including lakes and streams). The damage is due to its massive size and utilization of low grade ore. The result is huge amounts of waste
This forum has covered this awful mine proposal several times before.
It good to see the national media pick up on this.
Palin’s Stand on Mining Initiative Leaves Many Feeling Burned. By Alec MacGillis. Washington Post Staff Writer
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Resources for more information ↓
Mercury-emitting mine in Nevada shuts down. “The owner of the mine just reported big losses. The operation sent tons of the toxic metal into Idaho’s air before a Boise activist pushed officials into cracking down.” By Rocky Barker. Idaho Statesman.
Elk City is a very remote small town in north central, Idaho. It is 40 miles up the South Fork of the Clearwater River Canyon from Grangeville (no facilities between them). Despite its remote location, the local streams were badly damaged by placer mining years ago.
Mining companies don’t placer mine much any more. They have moved to pit mines and cyanide heap leaching.
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A Canadian mining company is proposing an open-pit cyanide heap leach mine in the headwaters of the South Fork of the Clearwater River. The Buffalo Gulch mine would be on Bureau of Land Management land just west of Elk City.
The Canadian mining company is using a flawed mine plan from the 1980s. Every major open-pit cyanide leach mine in Montana that used this same design ended up contaminating water supplies with cyanide or other toxins.
The Jerritt Canyon mining and milling operations just south of the Idaho border have been shut down after it was found this gold operation was emitting 90 times as much mercury as your typical large coal-fired power plant.
Mercury pollution is one of the major arguments against coal-fired power plants.
Mercury pollution investigation shuts down Nevada gold mine near Idaho border. Rocky Barker, Idaho Statesman.
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Kudos to the Idaho Conservation League for helping stop this outrageous poisoning of Idaho.
[Justin] Hayes’ activism, tenacity forces mercury polluter to close. Letters from the West. Rocky Barker.
Added Aug. 25. Editorial from the Times-News. There’s a little less mercury to worry about today.
Earlier we had a conversation about the Idaho Conservation League’s decision to cut a deal green-lighting a cobalt mine near Salmon, Idaho. Details of that deal were promised today (Monday) :
Formation Capital and Idaho Conservation League Reach Agreement on Conservation Program – marketwire
Mine, environmentalists hail ID cobalt mine deal – Todd Dvorak – AP
It appears that the company has agreed to post the bond the Forest Service was asking for and contribute $150,000 annually to watershed restoration projects for which the ICL and the mining company will meet annually to solicit suggestions from agencies and tribes and distribute monies. In exchage ICL will not litigate and will highlight the positives of the mine in the media.
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Brian Ertz posted above. This is my addition . . . Ralph Maughan
The article below was put up on the Idaho Statesman web site at 11:30 PM Monday (by Rocky Barker).
Mine company attracts a green partner. The Idaho Conservation League says it was won over by a commitment to cleanup at the new cobalt mine. By Rocky Barker. Edition Date: 08/19/08.
An interesting new items from Barker’s piece. An appeal of the project comes not from a conservation group but other mining companies. Barker wrote that Noranda and three other mining companies who are responsible for cleaning up the nearby old Blackbird cobalt mine have appealed.
The waters from the new mine and the old bleeding mine all run into Blackbird Creek. A spokeman for Noranda said that they can’t distinguish an increase in pollution by its source. Therefore, if Formation Capital’s mine causes an increase in pollution it can’t separated from the continuing historic pollution and all 4 companies. will end up being responsible for it.
The Idaho Conservation League (ICL) has struck a deal with Canadian mine company Formation Capital Corp.’s plans to mine cobalt near Salmon, Idaho.
Canadian mine owners, Idaho environmental group cut deal – Rocky Barker – Idaho Statesman
The adjacent Blackbird mine superfund site has been polluting waters for a long time highlighting the potential of the new project to do significant damage to the waters of Panther Creek drainage. It appears that the Canadian mine leasing American public land knows how to play politics under this shadow quite well – the Canadian mining company recruited former Idaho Governor Cecil Andrus, who now sits on their Board of Directors – a political umbilical cord with some greens in Idaho.
ICL has relinquished legal leverage to contest the Forest Service’s Record of Decision regarding the mine and expects to highlight “environmentally friendly” aspects of the company’s endeavor in the media in exchange for mitigation projects elsewhere and for the company posting already legally required bonds.
Formation Capital is pleased to join with the Idaho Conservation League in announcing the creation of the Conservation Action Program to implement projects to further enhance and improve natural resource, environmental and wildlife resources and values in the Upper Salmon River watershed.
Says the CEO of the company.
We’ve seen this heedless rush to oil shale before, just ahead of the inevitable bust. By Senator Ken Salazar. Salt Lake Tribune (reprinted from the Washington Post).
Salazar is a U.S. Senator from Colorado, the state where much of the oil shale lies.
House Natural Resoures Committee Invokes Rarely Used Powers to Block Uranium Mining Near Grand Canyon. Ascribe Newswire.
There is also an AP story on this unusual emergency action.
This is not only a threat to the scenic national park, but to the drinking water of 25-million people.
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Update: Permanent protection. Arizona Republic. Not quite, but for 3 years.
“Uranium mining and the Grand Canyon. What a terrible combination. And now it’s prohibited – at least for three years.”
In the West, mining’s return faces resistance. The region’s newcomers, who came for high-tech jobs and scenery, worry about ecological costs. By Ben Arnoldy. Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor.
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While there is an economic need for more copper, nickel, tin, etc, there is no need for more gold. Gold is unique because its price is more relevant as a store of wealth (gold investments as an alternative to stocks, bonds, etc.) than as an industrial material. More mining, means more gold, and this is not necessarily a benefit.
However, gold mining is the most destructive of new mines cropping up all over the West and the world. In opposing a new gold mine, you do not have to fight economic arguments about “the need” for a metal.
Four articles today on the 1872 General Mining Law.
“The law, signed by President Grant, allows patents for hardrock minerals on public lands to be mined for $2.50 or $5 an acre.” It’s time to end mining industry welfare. By Joel Connelly. Seattle Post-Intelligencer Columnist.
“Uranium mines don’t belong next door to one of the seven wonders of the natural world. Yet a British mining company plans to drill exploratory holes on federal land within three miles of the Grand Canyon.” We know the Drill. Arizona Republic.
Coalition calls for new mining laws. By John Cramer of the Missoulian.
Company wants to reopen Elk City gold mining claim. Idaho Statesman. Elk City is deep in north central Idaho’s backcountry. Mining from the early years still poisons the streams.
While the New World Mine proposal (once a very serious proposal) above Cooke City was pretty much defeated in 1996-7, there are a group of outstanding patented mining claims that could potentially cause trouble.
These will be purchased by the Trust for Public Land, ending forever the development threat they pose.
Group makes plans to buy up old mining claims. By The Associated Press
Although articles about the now-shuttered Jerritt Canyon mine have said it was the worst mercury polluter in the United States, a more recent article says that 6 other Nevada gold mines pump out more mercury into the air, with Barrick Goldstrick mine (a huge series of pits) alone putting out 30 times as much as Jerritt Canyon.
Ninth Largest Source of Toxic Mercury Shuttered. What About Polluters 1 Through 8? By Dan Shapley. The Daily Green.
Photo1. Part of the Barrick Goldstrike mine north of Carlin, Nevada.
Photo2. More of the Barrick Goldstrike mine.
A lot of these Nevada mines let ranchers graze the nearby rangeland for free (after all they are going to become pits and they want to have good relations). Do you think these mercury cows are being tested before they enter the beef food supply?
Web page on mercury poisoning. Residents of Idaho, Utah and Nevada should read this, especially if they have children.
Here’s a real story. It’s about the poisoning of Idaho. Nevada and this mining company should be paying we Idahoans reparations.
Nevada closes mine for mercury releases. Idaho officials say Jerritt Canyon has tainted Gem State waters and fish. The mine will have to fix its pollution control equipment. By Rocky Barker. Idaho Statesman.
This gold mine was the worst single source of mercury pollution in the United States, but it is just one of scores of gold pits releasing mercury across Nevada.
W.R. Grace agrees to $250-million dollar cleanup for past asbestos mining near Libby, Montana. New York Times.
Note that this notorious health hazard has been the subject of hundreds of of articles since 2000. Many people in the area have died from the asbestos contamination in town and from working the now closed mine.
“Congress is coming to Kalispell [Montana] this week for a town hall meeting to discuss the proposed industrialization of Canadian wilds bordering Glacier National Park’s northern edge.”
US Senators Baucus and Tester are holding a meeting to discuss British Columbia’s plans to tear the hell out of upper Flathead river which drains directly into Montana.
Story in the Missoulian.
Guest column in Headwaters News. Montana has a lot at stake in B.C. mining proposal. By Dave Hadden, President
When you have a President like George W. Bush, you don’t have much moral status to complain about another country wrecking its environment, but the negative impacts of this will be almost entirely felt in Montana, Idaho, and Washington State as the poisons pollute the pristine Flathead River and ruin Glacier National Park. It’s an international incident, and British Columbia’s government needs to get the message.
Not many Americans have seen this country. A road leads south from Elko, B.C. past huge ugly coal pits and then into the relatively undisturbed (except for some logging) headwaters of the North Fork of the Flathead River. The road then crosses into Montana. I drove the road about 15 years ago. I planned to go back last summer to photograph what they are up to, but I found this border crossing had been permanently closed a long time ago, not long after I crossed through (maybe just a year or two). So now there is no direct route into the currently wildlife rich and scenic country in BC,* and even on Google Earth the resolution of the area is very low. Update I notice that in the last month Google Earth has finally put in higher resolution photos.
They are trying to sneak this through.
North Fork of the Flathead River, British Columbia. Photo taken back in 1992 by Ralph Maughan
*I do notice that recent Google Maps shows a growing web of minor road, cuts, and exploration pits.
This mine would be in a scenic and steep tributary to the Salmon River, certainly a threat to water quality.
Forest Service OKs Harden Creek uranium exploration. By Todd Adams. Challis Messenger.
The JR Simplot Company wants a 1300 acre (2 square mile) expansion of its huge phosphate pit mine in Idaho on the Wyoming border. The federal government BLM just put out a fat environmental impact statement on the Smoky Canyon Mine enlargement, which they seem ready to approve. There are many other phosphate pits in SE Idaho.
The impacts of these phosphate mines extend far beyond the pits because rainwater seeping through the spoils picks up huge levels of toxic selenium which runs into the springs, creek and rivers in Wyoming (and eventually in the Snake River in Idaho). More sheep have died of poisoning while grazing on the “rehabilitated” mine spoils than have been killed by wolves in eastern Idaho.
There is a website that is trying to alert the public to the problem. . . . Caribou Cleanwater Partnership.
Story in the Casper Star Tribune. Gov. Freudenthal wants more time on phosphate mine review.
The selenium also concentrates in some native plants such as gumweed.
The phosphate rock ore is processed in Pocatello, ID into phosphate for fertilizer. Another large phosphate plant is in Soda Springs, Idaho. This mine is to feed the Pocatello plant.
Yesterday it was announced that one of Idaho’s most famous fishing streams, Silver Creek, had high levels of mercury contamination in its fish.
This is a real shocker because Silver Creek is a spring fed creek, indicating to me that the mercury blowing up from Nevada’s gold pits into Idaho (and over to Utah) might be enormous.
Today, Nov. 15, Rocky Barker writes about it. Gold glitters into the billions for mercury emitting Nevada mines. Idaho Statesman.
Update Nov. 16. Study: Silver Creek trout tainted with mercury. Idaho Mountain Express. Folks outside of Idaho may have no idea how much money, paid and volunteer effort has been put in to protect this fishing stream. This is major bad news and a lot of people are talking about it.
The U.S. House easily passed reform of the 1872 mining law that still governs the discovery and extraction of “hard rock” minerals on public lands.
The bill did not pass it by enough, however, to override President Bush’s veto.
A weaker bill is expected to pass the Senate, one more in line with some of the President’s objections. However, Bush has a tendency to move “move the goalposts” in terms of his objections on bills, making him essentially impossible to negotiate with.
Story by Brodie Farquhar, House Passes Mining Reform, White House Threatens Veto. New West.
A look the voting pattern of U.S. Representatives from the West shows Republicans against reform and Democrats in favor, almost without exception. Even “Blue Dogs” like Utah Democrat Jim Matheson voted for the bill.
The U.S. House of Representative may be close to passing long overdue reforms to the 1872 mining law. Many in the Boise, Idaho area [Treasure Valley] are hoping for changes that will stop the proposed pit mines Canadian mining companies want to excavate upstream at Atlanta, Idaho and other places in the central Idaho mountains.
“Atlanta Gold is the most unpopular proposal in Idaho,” said John Robison, who is leading the Idaho Conservation League’s campaign to stop the gold mine. “It’s even more unpopular than the nuclear power plant near Bruneau.”
Under 1872 mining law, mining is always the number one land use on public land. Other land uses and the waters have to give way.
Story in the Idaho Statesman. Valley’s eyes are on mining reform bill. As the House prepares for a vote, some see bill as a chance to protect Idaho’s water from toxins. By Rocky Barker
Update: The vote on the bill in the full House comes on Wednesday — Halloween.
Groups have been trying to reform this for a couple generations. Bush has said he will veto it.
House panel OKs bill imposing mining royalties. By Noelle Straub. Billings Gazette Washington Bureau
Instead of the old nearly free mining clam/patent system, mining operations would have to pay a royalty on “hard rock minerals” like gold, silver, lead, zinc, etc. like they currently do on gas and oil, coal, etc.
For the first time the 1872 mining law would not trump all other land uses.
More Nevada gold mines spew more toxic mercury than they reported. By Rocky Barker. Idaho Statesman.
Three years ago hardly anyone thought of this, but the fact is southern Idaho waters and part of Utah too is being poisoned by the emissions from the rapidly growing number of open pit gold mines in Nevada.
Recent studies have also shown that forest and range fires emit a lot of highly toxic mercury. It isn’t a natural component of vegetation, but combustion of deposits from industrial sources on the grass and trees. I wonder how much Nevada mercury was spread around the United States from the Nevada and Idaho range and forest fires this last summer?
The antiquated 1872 mining act is not just a rip off of the taxpayer, but with rising mineral prices, it is a great threat to our most scenic areas because that law says mining always comes first, and thousands of claims are being staked.
Here is an article from the LA Times, and you can find many similar ones on-line.
Mining claims near wilderness areas in state [California] seen as threat. Wilderness areas in the state could be affected by pollution, public land analyst says. By Margot Roosevelt, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer.
More than 21,300 mining claims have been staked within 10 miles of California’s national parks and monuments and federal wilderness and roadless areas, according to an analysis of U.S. Bureau of Land Management records released Monday.
Otter: Pollution trading program still unfit for Idaho. The governor also wants the DEQ [Dept of Environmental Quality] to expand its efforts with surrounding states to reduce mercury emissions. By Rocky Barker. Idaho Statesman.
Gov. Butch Otter wants to keep Idaho out of a mercury pollution trading program promoted by the Bush Administration. The program would allow companies to build mercury polluting coal-fired power plants in Idaho simply by buying pollution rights. Former Idaho Gov. Jim Risch first pulled Idaho out of the program in 2006, helping to kill a proposed coal-fired plant near Twin Falls.
Idaho has few mercury pollution rights to sale because it has few sources of mercury pollution. Instead it faces a steady rain of mercury pollution from Nevada’s open pit gold mine and adjacent refineries. Numerous lakes and reservoirs already have too much mercury in the fish to safely eat.
Read the rest of this entry »
Forest Service to decide on uranium exploration this month. Challis Messinger. By Todd Adams.
“Forest Service officials probably will approve a drilling project to explore for uranium in the Harden Creek area between Sunbeam and Stanley, . . . “
Mining law may be overhauled to protect public lands. By Jennifer Talhelm. Associated Press.
“The Bush administration opposes the House bill, arguing that it would hurt small Western communities that depend on mining.” Even the mining industry knows change is badly needed. This Administration uses the stupidest, most primitive arguments on issue after issue. IMO.
Ravaging Appalachia. Editorial by the New York Times.
The Salt Lake Tribune has an editorial today against the 1872 general mining law, which has endured attempts to reform it since the 19th century. Its harmful consequences to our public lands is increasing because of the recent rush to stake new uranium and other “hard rocks” claims.
These minerals are basically given away free under this law and the surface of the law is permanently privatized if the mining claim is patented. Meanwhile oil, gas, phosphate, potash, sulfur, coal, and geothermal, are classified as leasable minerals and bo th the federal government and the state receive receive royalties from their development.
The Tribune is not alone in covering this. Report: More Than 800 New Mining Claims Crowd Border of Grand Canyon National Park. Many Claims for Uranium: Yosemite, Arches, Canyonlands, Joshua Tree also Threatened. YubaNet.
From July 2007. Sportsmen want 1872 mining law revised. By Steve Lipsher Denver Post Staff Writer.
On Aug 27, the Washington Post had a warming article about the recent upsurge in claims under the 1872 law. Mining Our Treasures: An 1872 Law Paves the Way for a Rush of Claims in the West. By Jane Danowitz and Richard Wiles. “815 active mining claims lie within five miles of the Grand Canyon, 805 of them staked since 2003. Just outside Arches National Park in Utah, 869 claims have been snatched up, almost all within the past five years.”
Yet another damn Canadian gold-mining company is bent on destroying America’s public land with a proposed pit in some of the most scenic mountains of Idaho, and the mayor of Boise is not going to sit idly by.
Boise Mayor Dave Bieter said Monday he opposes a controversial gold mining operation proposed near Atlanta [Idaho], and will ask the City Council for a formal declaration of opposition next week.Bieter and others are worried about potential contamination of the Boise River.
Read the full story in the Idaho Statesman. Bieter says he opposes gold mine. Boise mayor will ask council to declare its opposition, but city has no power to halt proposed Atlanta project. By Kathleen Kreller. Idaho Statesman
Update: I made a map from Google Earth showing the area of the planned pits and associated disturbances, perched above the Middle Fork of the River, the town of Atlanta, and adjacent to the splendid Sawtooth Wilderness.
Here is a shocking report about the damn Canadian gold pits in northern Nevada and movement of neurotoxic mercury toward and into Idaho.
RENO, Nev. – Startlingly high concentrations of mercury in ambient air were found near at least three northern Nevada mines, according to a January study by researchers at the University of Nevada, Reno.
All three mines are west and upwind of Salmon Falls Creek Reservoir, where the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality has found elevated concentrations of mercury in the water.
Read the rest in the Magic Valley Times News. By Matt Christensen.
A pit of death? The open pits, spoils, tailings and associated carnage of the landscape from Barrick Goldstrike Mines spreads over miles of northern Nevada.
Copyright Ralph Maughan Read the rest of this entry »
This is to think about, when you consider the impact of the proposed Cline Mine, in British Columbia few miles north of the border from Montana. You don’t have to go to Canada to find the Canadian mining companies polluting and damaging.
Mercury vapor evaporates from the 30-some odd big gold pit mines in northern Nevada. The mercury combines with other elements and enters the food chain as weather deposits it over southern Idaho and Utah.
Part of Newmont’s Carlin Mine, about 15 miles north of Carlin, Nevada
Photo © by Ralph Maughan. May 2006
A small portion of the titanic Barrick Goldstrike Mine, about 20 miles north of Carlin, Nevada. Photo © Ralph Maughan. May 2006
A giant open pit coal mine is proposed in British Columbia just north of Montana close to Glacier National Park. I have linked to articles about this proposal for years, but now the reality of the mine is much more solid. The coal would be shipped to China.
There are already similiar mines to the north in the Elk River Basin (a stream that does not drain directly into the United States).
State to seek federal intervention on Canadian coal mine. By Michael Jamison, Missoulian.
I discovered there is a blog, written by folks who live near the North Fork of the Flathead River, that gives a lot of information about the “Cline Mine.” See North Fork Preservation Association blog.
Here is a web site with maps and photos. Cline Mine in a Nutshell.
Update. Jan. 20. Here is a photo of what to expect. It is of Coal Mountain in the Flathead Range of the Rockies (British Columbia). This longstanding coal mine is 10-15 miles north of the proposed Cline Mine. It drains into a different river basin.
BOISE, Idaho — Two of the West’s largest remaining populations of Yellowstone cutthroat trout face sharp declines due to contamination from phosphate mines in southeast Idaho, Idaho State University professors say.
Read the rest of this AP story by Keith Ridler.
Note one correction in the story. . . it is the Greater Yellowstone Coalition, not the Greater Yellowstone Alliance
More . . . (GYC web site)
In the old days, it was the House Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs.” The Democrats eventually changed it to the House Natural Resources Committee, but the Republicans changed it to just Resources Committee.” Now the Democrats will put “natural” back in the title.
Much more important is the sea change in personnel holding power and the policies that are likely to pursue. It is much more than Pombo being gone.
ePluribus Media reports on the good news (note: there are crossposts to and from several blogs).
House Natural Resources returns.
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Related news from the Las Vegas Sun. Mining laws dating to 1872 may be in for big changes. By Lisa Mascaro. Note that the new Democratic Leader (Majority Leader of the US Senate) Harry Reid of Nevada is a big champion of the mining industry. Nevada’s open pit gold mines are badly polluting Idaho and Utah with toxic mercury that is carried by the weather from the pits.
Just when it looked like the long fight (20 years) over the Rock Creek mine under the Cabinet Mountains Wilderness in NW Montana (grizzly bear habitat) would finally end with the mines’ approval, Governor Brian Schweitzer stepped in. He said Montana will not issue a permit for the mines unless they can prove the underground workings will not drain the alpine lakes above in the designated Wilderness.
The results of this study probably won’t surprise anyone, but that doesn’t mean that the same thing won’t happen the next mine. The “rosy scenario” has many more lives than we do.
Story in Helena Independent Record. By Eve Byron. “Past predictions on mining impacts to water quality often were faulty, which led to increased pollution, risks to public health and costly taxpayer-funded cleanups, according to a report released Thursday.”