During the comment period for the Draft Environmental Impact Report, Rise Gold submitted 1,600 reply cards and form letters as “comments” that simply declared support for the mine without following County guidelines to focus comments only on the adequacy of the report. This included over 500 duplicates and multiple spoofed names. In late June, they used those numbers to create a press release claiming that the majority of residents support the mine.
By contrast, MineWatch opposition leaders delivered over 5,500 petition signatures and 1,500 personalized opposition comments on July 12th, 2022. The Union covered it lightly in Panning for support over mine; Rise Gold and advocates spar over level of opposition, but three opinion pieces published on July 20th tell the rest of the story in all its ugly detail. They are included below in their entirety. Scroll past the picture for easy reading.
Christy Hubbard: Rise Gold resorts to stuffing the ballot box
July 19, 2022 Originally published in The Union
Let’s face it, we’re all growing deeply weary of Rise Gold’s misrepresentations when it comes to talking about the proposed reopening of the Idaho-Maryland Mine.
Early this year, their glossy mailer proclaimed that the mine was going to be “green” while happily ignoring the huge energy use and greenhouse gas emissions they’ll be generating.
Even more alarming were their assertions that “The county has determined” that the project is safe … trying to fool people into believing that a draft environmental report was the final word on the subject.
Recently, they hit a new low with their press release claiming the majority of the comments on the environmental report “supported” the mine.
Come again? Are they serious? I distinctly remember sitting in the Planning Commission meeting and being told that this was not the forum for “for” or “against” comments, but that we should focus our comments on the adequacy of the draft report itself.
But no. Rise Gold needed a press sound byte so badly, they decided to submit 1,600 reply cards and form letters that simply declared support for the mine. This is akin to stuffing a ballot box because people on the other side of the fight weren’t even using the environmental report comments to cast votes.
As it turns out, over 500 of them were duplicates, making the real count more like 1,100.
Then adding insult to injury, some of the listings seemed to be spoofed because they included several names of known MineWatch activists who oppose the mine and deny ever authorizing Rise to share their names.
What was the rest of the community doing in the meantime? Wait for it … They were playing by the rules. Several nonprofits and impacted agencies like NID and the City of Grass Valley submitted comments to the County, as did many hundreds of individual citizens, creating a total of over a thousand legitimate comments.
Now comes the part where Rise Gold uses simple math to create the illusion of a “win.” They divided their 1,600 into the total of some 2,850 comments to create a talking point with a claim that 59% are in favor of the mine. Pretty slick, huh?
OK. Perhaps they can fool their investors. But they are not fooling us. The fact is that far more people in this county oppose this mine than support it.
CEA Foundation/ MineWatch volunteers made that abundantly clear at the Nevada County Board of Supervisors meeting on July 12.
CEA Foundation President Ralph Silberstein, delivered over 5,500 petition signatures which, included 1,500 unique and personalized comments to the supervisors, all expressing opposition to the mine.
These petitions were gathered in person and online. The paper petitions were collected with the help of over 100 trusted volunteers who reported that encounters with actual mine supporters were very rare. The online petitions used a well-known security tool called reCAPTCHA to reduce the risk of compromise by automated bots.
The original count had been well over 6,500, but volunteers took the time to remove duplicates so the county could receive an honest count of voices against the mine; 4,714 of the signatures were from Nevada County residents, with the remainder from nearby counties, visitors, and others.
But that’s not the only proof.
∎ This community delivered a powerful presence when the planning commission meeting hosted the comment meeting for the environmental report in March. Almost 500 people were in attendance. Of the 101 who took tickets to speak, only one spoke in support of the mine.
∎ Of the 168 opinion pieces that have been published in The Union newspaper about the mine, only eight of them were pro-mine. That’s 95% opposed.
∎ MineWatch social media groups are over 2,500 members strong.
∎ “No Mine” signs abound on residents’ lawns, with nary a pro-mine sign to be found.
Let’s put this debate to bed, shall we? Despite Rise Gold’s claims to the contrary, the people of Nevada County are overwhelmingly rejecting the proposed re-opening of the Idaho-Maryland Mine.
If you are as outraged by Rise Gold’s behavior in this as I am, please send a letter to your supervisor. Mining is a toxic, risky business that relies on companies to self-report most compliance measures. Ethics matter.
Learn how at http://www.MineWatchNC.org/take-action.
Christy Hubbard is a Grass Valley homeowner, a volunteer with Community Environmental Advocates Foundation, and a leader in the MineWatch campaign.
Guarionex and Sharon Delgado: We never supported Rise Gold; why do they list us as so?
July 19, 2022
Originally published in The Union.
Earth Justice Ministries is a local interfaith nonprofit organization that we founded with other clergy and laity almost 30 years ago. We have made clear our unwavering opposition to the reopening of the Idaho-Maryland Mine, as individuals and as an organization.
We have circulated petitions, written op-eds, spoken at public forums, sent letters to public officials, and submitted comments on the draft environmental impact report to the Board of Supervisors on the dangers we see posed by the mine. We know that many other community members have done the same.
With all the public opposition to the mine, when we read Rise Gold’s recent press release stating that most of draft impact report comments sent to the Board of Supervisors showed support for the mine (1,600 out of 2,850), something seemed very wrong. It just didn’t add up.
For one thing, that’s not the point of the draft environmental impact report. Rise Gold is misusing the process as a public relations campaign.
The point is not to count how many people support or oppose the mine, but to comment on impacts of the project.
Rise Gold is treating the comments like a poll or survey by tallying up pre-written, postage-paid postcards and electronic form letters supporting the mine.
They did not even check for duplications. It was the hard-working MineWatch volunteers who looked closely at the names and discovered that over 500 were duplicates. Also, the names of several so-called mine “supporters” were actually MineWatch volunteers, like us!
How could that be?
We were shocked to discover that our names were listed as having emailed comments to the Board of Supervisors in support of the reopening of the mine, not just once, but three times!
When we saw the actual emails that had been falsely submitted in our names, all three were identical. Each email was just one sentence that said, “I support the reopening of the Idaho-Maryland Mine,” with our names pasted electronically on all three.
Strangely, although our actual email address was listed, the only return email address we could identify was Sharon and Guari Delgado <firstname.lastname@example.org>.
The same thing happened to Holly Rose, who had five emails sent in her name, identical to the ones sent in our names, also from this third party.
We know that this also happened to other people, and that these false emails were part of what Rise Gold claimed were legitimate comments on the report.
Without Minewatch oversight, we wouldn’t have known.
Jarryd Gonzales, the spokesperson for Rise Gold, did not explain this behavior but rather made the vague claim that “an email was sent to the county whenever someone visited the (Rise Gold) project website and completed a support form.”
Neither of us ever completed such a form, and we can’t imagine other Minewatch volunteers doing so either.
Gonzales also claimed that “there are more duplicates on the side of CEA (Community Environmental Advocates) or Minewatch.”
This is false. Minewatch did not send out pre-written cards or form letters for volunteers to submit to indicate their side by stating their opposition to the mine, but rather encouraged volunteers to follow the draft environmental impact report process by studying the impacts of the mine and making their own comments.
In other words, the Minewatch Coalition followed the rules of the draft environmental impact report process.
Now, appropriately, Minewatch is making public the names of people who have taken a stand in opposition to the mine by submitting petitions to the Board of Supervisors. On Tuesday, July 12, the Minewatch Coalition turned in petitions that included 5,550 names (with no duplications) of people who oppose the reopening of the mine.
Volunteers did the hard work of not only circulating petitions, but also removing duplications. From where we stand, we see these petitions as an honest measure of where most Nevada County residents stand on the mine.
Guarionex and Sharon Delgado live in Nevada City.
Holly Rose: Where did they get my name as a ‘supporter’?
July 19, 2022
Originally published in The Union.
Alan Riquelmy has a clever headline for his July 12 article: “Panning for support for the mine; Rise Gold and advocates spar over level of opposition to plans to reopen Idaho-Maryland.”
But there are errors and omissions.
“Other mine opponents claimed their email addresses had been used to submit comments in favor of the mine.”
“‘Not just once,’ said Sharon Delgado, ‘but three times.’”
I’m not “claiming” they used my information. They did. I presented five actual emails to each supervisor at the meeting. I believe they were also provided to Alan prior to the meeting.
There are many people that Rise is claiming supports them, not just Sharon Delgado and myself, that are documented signers of the no mine petitions. MineWatch has the exact number — nine, I believe they said, each probably having more than one entry. I would think mine supporters would want to follow up that they don’t have fraudulent support letters/comments. They can check with MineWatchNC.
Jarryd Gonzales, spokesman for the Idaho-Maryland Mine project, said duplicate comments exist on both sides of the mine issue.
Those numbers were taken from the county,” he added, noting that 56% of the comments favored the mine. “What you’ll find is there are more duplicates on the side of CEA or MineWatch.”
Concerning opponents’ emails being used in support of the mine, Gonzales said an email was sent to the county whenever someone visited the project website and completed a support form.
Documentation shows Rise’s numbers should be the only ones in question. I guarantee I never completed a support form and Rise’s numbers still include their duplicates and fictitious emails, not MineWatch’s. With everything presented at the meeting, how did Alan get it so backwards?
MineWatch has meticulously gone through and deleted all duplicates so their numbers are accurate.
That was stated at the meeting and specifically told to Alan, I believe.
Rise’s July 29 press release says it has 59% support. The article states Mr. Gonzales is now claiming 56%. Is Rise actually changing their numbers or was that a typo?
I was relieved to let the Board of Supervisors know what Rise is up to and was told The Union reporter was going to cover it.
People need to know that our email information and addresses are being fraudulently used in Rise’s numbers and we have no idea how many are fake.
They somehow have my residence address, which I don’t give out, except for voter registration. It’s not rocket science to figure out that support numbers Rise claims are incorrect.
Holly Rose lives in Grass Valley.