DEIR EXPLAINER - MineWatch January 2022 Meeting
Hundreds of people signed up to hear coalition experts talk about the Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) in our January webinar. If you’re a writer (technical and non-technical) interested in commenting on the DEIR or an activist who wants to speak up, watch the recorded presentation below to get the full story or download the PDF for a quick overview.
08:15 – 83 Negative Impacts. Oh My! - An overview of what’s in the report by the numbers.
18:00 – DEIR Explainer – A tutorial on the DEIR, what it does and doesn’t do, and how it relates to decision making
29:00 – Our Take on the DEIR – CEA Foundation President, Ralph Silberstein shares a preliminary view of concerns about the science and mitigations described in the DEIR.
41:30 – How to Write a Comment Letter
49:05 – Questions and Answers
1:14:40 – Volunteer Opportunities
Key RESOURCES Mentioned in this presentation
Comment on the Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR)
MineWatch DEIR information page https://www.minewatchnc.org/post/take-action-draft-environmental-impact-report
County information page www.mynevadacounty.com/3195/Idaho-Maryland-Mine---Rise-Grass-Valley
How to write DEIR comments https://www.MineWatchNC.org/post/how-to-write-deir-comments
Sign up to be a DEIR commenter https://minewatch.ivolunteer.com/commentwriter
Share the link to this webinar with others https://www.minewatchnc.org/post/deir-explainer-minewatch-january-meeting
Volunteer for a variety of tasks to help stop the mine https://minewatch.ivolunteer.com/
Sign the petition (now closed)
Donate (to help fund expert DEIR reviewers) https://www.paypal.com/donate/?hosted_button_id=TVNUXWDH2UBNG
TRANSCRIPT of questions and answers during the session
NOTE: Some questions were answered live or not included in the transcript below. We're working on adding those answers. You'll find them in red below.
what specific truck route does Rise Gold propose for removing mine waste products?
first 5 years, to centennial site via Whispering Pines. Then later trucking out or area
Regardless of the outcome of this mine project, should we not be drafting up a petition to get a ballot measure to enact an ordinance to not allow any further hard rock mining in Nevada County?
good point. This is complicated because of state and federal laws, but we want to pursue it
How certain is CEA about the Mine being opened? When I talk to the general public most of the people think the Mine will not go through and be opened? It seems serious to me especially with all the hoops the county/city is making Rise jump through.
we are addressing this tonight.
With all the identified negative impacts, not the least of which is Rise Gold only having $400,000 of the needed $10 million to start taking out gold, why has the County not rejected this mine project?
They're not in a position to do that yet. Mining approvals are subject to a regulated process, which includes the Environmental Impact Report we're talking about there. The County is obligated to consider it.
Great slides. Can we post them to NextDoor, Facebook etc.? I found when posting to NextDoor that people really appreciate DATA and not OPINIONS.
That is a wonderful idea -- thank you
What did Rise Gold do to other communities by mining in them? What is their record for environmental damage?
Rise Gold itself has never opened a mine or made a profit in 15 years. However, their CEO, Ben Mossman was CEO at the Yellow Giant Mine in BC Canada where they polluted tribal waters, went bankrupt, and let Canadians with a bill to pay. You can learn more at https://www.minewatchnc.org/shouldnt-trust-rise-gold
Great simplification of the impacts. Thank you Martin.
Thx, glad you caught it!
thank you. glad there are so many
You’re welcome. thank you
Would panelists be willing to make presentations available to attendees for later reference in writing letters?
Definitely. we will have this available on our website. We've also created a "how to" in writing comment letters.
Martin. I was not able to screenshot that screen showing that out of 85 concerns, 85 made it in. That is powerful. Could you share that with me? I want to show people our actions did something.
"Glad you liked it. And thank you for contributing to the first round!!! We will definitely be sharing. (see the link above).
For Mr. Webb - Reading the DEIR I see no mention of using solar energy anywhere on the project. I read some weasel words about Rise being an industry and is not required to pursue solar energy options. Can we challenge this in view of the large energy use by the project? It's worth challenging on the merits of the proposed project blowing up our county's Energy Action Plan, which the BOS approved UNAMIMOUSLY right before Covid in 2019. Instead of reducing our community's energy use, it would double it. Does the BOS feel all the work on the EAP they approved was useless and disposable? There aren't any requirements to install solar, so it's something to lean into the BOS on. In an era of drought water quality is most important as well as quantity for the people in town, farms and fire fighting and recreation. is there a provision for exceptional climate conditions?
Yes - The DEIR should analyze potential impacts considering likely impacts from climate change in both the Air Quality Section and the Hydrology Section. Those would be great comments to include in a comment letter.
The cover of the DEIR indicates there are 10 ((x) volumes and that what we're being shown is only Volume 1. Where are the other 9 and what is in them?
Take a look at the Table of Contents on pages 2-11 of the report PDF. The DEIR itself is Volume I. The other volumes 2-10 contain the reports and background that the DEIR utilized for the analysis. All the documents can be found on the County website at [the link above] We recommend that people start by reviewing the Executive Summary and Project Summary and then look at the specific impact(s) they are interested in, those are contained in Chapter 4.
Shouldn't a mitigation measure also be verifiable and sustainable?
Mitigation measures must be fully enforceable through permit conditions, agreements or other legally binding instruments. So yes- need they should be entirely verifiable and enforceable. This would be a great thing to include in a comment letter if you see a mitigation measure that does seem enforceable, verifiable, or sustainable.
How can we get Grass Valley or Nevada County to purchase the property and close mining possibilities FOREVER???
What a GREAT idea!
Is the letter to be sent to Matt Kelly? If the letter is not specific to a particular situation and not highly technical, will the county or supervisors not take it seriously? I sent a lengthy email to all the supervisors expressing my reasons for opposing the mine but did not get technical. It is landing on deaf ears or blind eyes if a person does not bone up enough to feel comfortable being technical. Is the EIR data the only thing the county will consider?
Not at all. Both technical and non-technical comments are valuable in influencing decision makers. Thank you for doing what you've already done. General letters to the supervisors are read and valued. For some parts of the process, like commenting on the DEIR, it pays to be very specific, but if you're not comfortable commenting on the science, then take a close look at the proposed mitigations and see if they make common sense. For instance, ask your self whether a mitigation is clear and precise enough for the County to hold Rise Gold accountable? If not. Make a comment and tell them exactly which line you're commenting on.
DEIR addresses loss of wells page 1. NID will take care of this- is this a done deal? Let’s say the mine owners pay for NID infrastructure and then the homeowners pay the water bill.
to be answered - stay tuned
Have we reached out to metro news outlets?
Yes and we continue to reach out.
Is it accurate that Rise Gold states that if the Centennial Site is not approved that they have plenty of space on the Brunswick site for waste rock? And they will truck it out and sell it? If so, how significant is the Centennial site to the project?
to be answered - stay tuned
After the EIR is submitted, what happens before the BOS votes
The next steps are as follows: DEIR released (January 4th), Planning Commission hearing February 23rd, Public comment deadline is April 4th. An Economic Report may be released in the Spring
The Planning Commission will hold hearings and make a recommendation to the Board of Supervisors before the Supervisors vote.
Who authored the DEIR?
Raney Planning Associates
I assume we can submit more than one letter?
"The red flag you mentioned was what jumped out to me. The DSTR is not out, yet the dEIR refers to the remediation that will be described in the report. It's like a shell game Under biological resources this caught my attention (among others) ON the Brunswick site there is a large freshwater marsh. These are possibly jurisdictional wetlands due to proximity to Wolf Creek; if so they must be delineated and permitted by USACE Under Federal Clean Water Act Section 404. The dEIR says "The applicant shall implement the mitigation measures identified in the Aquatic Resources Management Plans for the Centennial Industrial Site and Brunswick Area, pursuant to Mitigation Measure"" Where are the Aquatic Resources Management Plans; are they in the dEIR or the nonexistent DSTR?"
Exactly! Great point! It’s virtually impossible to tell exactly what the biological impacts will be because they’re assuming Centennial will be cleaned up, but they have not clarified the design of that cleanup. It’s unclear exactly how many wetlands will be impacted by this project as a result, which makes the analysis inadequate. FYI - you should feel free to reach out to Matt Kelly to ask for copies of any reports that are referenced in the DEIR. They are required to provide copies of these reports if they are not available on the website.
Is it appropriate to write more than one letter on different topics?
Yes. Focus first on the Planning Commission and then the BOS. You can write to each member.
In addition to the MANY environmental concerns, the finances of the company seem really important. But are they not a factor for this stage?
You're right! The financial strength of any company trying to take on such a massive project is definitely a factor, but it is NOT explored in the Environmental Impact Report. We are confident the Supervisors will be looking at this information, plus the data from the economic impact report, before making their final decision. According to an Opinion Piece by Randall Newsome (Randall J. Newsome: Thar’s gold in those promises? | TheUnion.com) Rise Gold has $400,000 in the bank and is on the brink of insolvency.
I have written to Matt Kelly and the BoS about a matter that concerns me. I calculated 13,000 added monthly trips using numbers from page 883 and 884 of the DEIR. The matter is traffic safety from the added trips. We have twisting two lane roads with blind and semi blind turns. Plus roads that feed into access roads to the mine ie Bennett, Hwy 174 and Brunswick creating a situation of crossing traffic to merge. In September there was a fatal head on accident on Brunswick. Please speak out on the added traffic safety issues created.
these are the basis of some good comments.
What is FEIR?
Final Environmental Impact Report.
Is there a zoom meeting that I could get involved in with the team? I was on one before but didn’t know the details for any further meetings. I have a bunch of people that want to help and I also have some really good ideas that we can implement to help the cause
send an email saying this to MineConcerns@cea-nc.org to connect better on this. thanks.
If a person has comments in more than one area, is it better to submit them separately or put them all in a single letter?
A single letter is fine. You can create a section for each impact that you are focusing on.
Regarding the rezone required prior to approval; isn't that it's own
Yes- you’re right. It is a separate approval process. The Board of Supervisors will need to approve this, and there will be another hearing at which you can speak directly about the project.
isn't the rezone hearing it's own process? And after that, IF this is approved and goes through, leaving vast environmental damage; is there a way to hold the county legally liable for their decision based on profits vs. actual outcome?
to be answered - stay tuned
Who should letter be sent to other than the supervisors? I would like to share my letter with someone to determine if it is significant enough.
We have a resource online with the address to send to the planning department. They are the ones focusing on the DEIR. https://www.minewatchnc.org/post/how-to-write-deir-comments. In addition, you can copy supervisors and any other government representatives that matter to you, like city, NID, or others.
I commented on all the situations involved or as many as I could remember. I do live on top of the Brunswick Mine.
"Regarding the 100’ setback:
As a multi- generational local landowner I know the logging EIR requires such set back at waterway. Since the mining company requires an 80 year lease on the land and can sell the lease if they quit/fail mining, would they then be able to sell to loggers who would no longer need a setback to waterways?
Good question. The new owners would need to obtain a use permit to authorize different uses on the property like logging.
Can we submit them electronically?
yes. Read the how to comment guide here. https://www.MineWatchNC.org/post/how-to-write-deir-comments
Can you comment on the number of folks that you might know of who see the mine as a positive addition to our county? (Other than the owner and investors..?)
LoL. Rise Gold would like everyone to believe that it's a majority (if you believe their press), but that was based on a push poll that was widely-criticized in numerous op-eds in The Union. Our experience when we go out into the community and talk with people is that the vast majority are against the mine.
Does copy the DTSC on our letters helpful? Or the Waterboard?
Yes, if you are writing on one of their subject areas.
how can I find the DEIR’s responses to the scoping comments I sent in || live answered
If we have two topics of concern, should we write one letter addressing both topics, or two separate letters each addressing one topic? || All one letter is perfectly fine. Just be sure to clarify your remarks so they know which comments apply to which sections of the report.
Can a DEIR letter response that was submitted during the Emperor Gold DEIR be submitted for this project (Rise)? I am referring to groundwater and domestic wells.
yes. If they are relevant. (I suspect you are thinking about previous docs on hydrology. :-)
During a meeting of the Planning Commission today, it appeared to me that the Commissioners are not technically "oriented". When a project was voted on , the Commissioners relied on the recommendations by Planning Dept. Staff.
this is fairly typical. We would like to see more engagement into the details of projects.
Is there strength in having numerous persons signing a comment letter that numerous people worked on?
Not necessarily. If you worked on it collaboratively though, it is fine to put all names on it. Do what feels right to you. The exception would be if you want to write a response on behalf of an existing group such as a coalition or association. This how to guide can help. https://www.minewatchnc.org/post/how-to-write-deir-comments
Are we doing something about the possible endangered flannel bush plant species that will be detrimentally affected?
this is a huge issue. the CNPS is working with us to address this. thanks.
How does the newly required Financial Impacts Report play into the current deadlines for public comment?
The Economic Impact report is running on its own schedule and we don't have details from the County on that yet, but we do know that the intent is to have it done in the same timeframe as the Final Environmental Impact Report (FEIR) so that Supervisors have the data from both reports before making decisions.
Did the DIER consider the new housing be built off Brunswick?
to be answered - stay tuned
After the EIR is submitted, what happens before the BOS votes
to be answered - stay tuned
I believe that County Staff should be communicated with as much as possible. They will also be the source of most input to the Supervisors, especially in public hearings. At this point, only the Staff and Rise Mine will make Presentations (PowerPoint) at the hearings. We get a few minutes each to talk.
When is the county economic impact report expected to be completed?
Roughly the same time as the final environmental report - the idea is to have both of them available to make final decisions. They haven't provided a precise date.
Because CEQA approval comes through the CA Department of Fish and Wildlife, would it be effective to start sending letters of opposition, or requests for further explanation of mitigation for environmental concerns, to the CDFW as well? The CEQA approval comes through the County. The CDFW relies on the CEQA document as a Responsible Agency and will have to issue separate permits for the project.
Yes- it’s great to send your concerns to CDFW as well so they consider this as part of their permitting process.
Our well isn’t identified as one that would get NID replacement service, but we’re only 1/2 mile from the mine and the mineral rights under us belong to the Idaho Maryland mine. I don’t see how the DEIR addresses the potential for catastrophic dewatering outside the 300 identified impacted wells. Am I missing something?
You're not missing anything. This is a significant concern for many homeowners and a coalition of well owners that is forming. You can learn more at https://www.cea-nc.org/concerned-well-owners-sign-up-form/
"can the BoS make a decision Before the economic impact report is completed?"
Good question. The ENVIRONMENTAL impact report is REQUIRED before they make a decision. The specifications on the ECONOMIC impact report clearly indicated that they intend to finish it in time for the release of the Final DEIR, so we're confident it will be part of the information considered before a decision
Unfortunately, I have to log out. Thank you all very much for all your hard work. I look forward to working in solidarity with you all to address the issues in the DEIR and beyond.
Thank you for all you do!
I know this sounds obvious, but what are the logistics for submitting letters? Mail only? Electronically? Email? Email or mail is fine.
Check out the how to guide https://www.minewatchnc.org/post/how-to-write-deir-comments
Regarding Rise Mine finances, as a public company they can issue more stock. I heard that they were planning, and close to, a secondary offering of 2.5 million shares at approx. 50 cents per share. This would be a significant war chest. They could generate another $1.2 millon through the OTC stock market.
They could do this multiple times.
I wrote the public comment for Banner Mtn. Homeowners association in 2009. Yes, the focus was on domestic well vulnerability.
Thanks! If you or other folks from Banner Mtn will be commenting on this round, please encourage them to let us know. https://minewatch.ivolunteer.com/commentwriter
Can people outside of Nevada County comment on this?
Please feel free to share the documentary “Rise Beyond Gold” on social media: https://vimeo.com/480024102
GREAT idea. GREAT video. A lot of people haven't seen this one yet!!!!
Been crossing my fingers for an endangered animal.
My husband has a background in Haz waste mgmt, chemistry, biology and more. How can he best help? Who should he offer his expertise to?
That's great! Please ask him to help with comments. If he goes to https://minewatch/ivolunteer.com , and identify his interest. We can try to match him up with others doing that work.
Notice Of Availability link: chrome-extension://efaidnbmnnnibpcajpcglclefindmkaj/viewer.html?pdfurl=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.mynevadacounty.com%2FDocumentCenter%2FView%2F41581%2FIdaho-Maryland-Mine-Draft-EIR-NOA&clen=44775
to protect. Idaho.MMEIR@co.nevada.ca.us is the email Jillian referred to.
Nevada County Notice of Availability of the DEIR: https://www.mynevadacounty.com/CivicAlerts.aspx?AID=4505
Outstanding job all of you!
Thank you all for a very professional and well organized meeting!
Do we know the approximate timing for the final BOS vote?
It is anticipated later in 2022.
Thanks so much everyone!
Thank you for all the information!