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Jeff Kane: Nevada County sidewalk conversation

Jeff' wicked wit shines again. Does Rise Gold think of us as "Ignorant Rube County"? They seem to hope so.

This opinion piece was originally published in The Union.


Hey, I got your mailer about reopening the Idaho-Maryland Mine. Pretty slick.

Yup. as it says, the science is clear. The draft environmental impact report calls the mine safe and responsible.

Hmm. I read the report, all thousand pages. Safe and responsible? You’re kidding, right?

Well, the report didn’t say it in exactly those words. It did say there are issues around noise, traffic, air quality, explosives safety, lowering of well water tables, wildlife, creek destruction, and on and on. But it says most of that can be mitigated. You know, minimized.

Most of it?

Yeah, but sorry, not all. Nevada County already has some of the most toxic air in the country’s most air-toxic state. That’s not good, so we’ll have our loaders and dozers and 20-ton haulers emit as little diesel exhaust as possible over the next 80 years. There’s just no getting around the fact that our emissions will cause even more discomfort and lung disease than you have now, especially in children and older folks. But we’ll figure something out, and it’ll be a win-win, you’ll see. To show our goodwill, we’ll buy the Ophir Hill Fire District a top-of-the-line fire engine and fund three full-time additional firefighters for the mine’s duration. How’s that for being a good neighbor?

Wait a minute. I told you I read the report. On page 541 it says you’re obliged to buy the fire engine and fund the firefighters because of your huge stash of diesel fuel, explosives and chemicals, not to mention drier weather every year. And these other “gifts” you’re promising are contractual obligations, too. Like you love our rustic little community so much, you said, that you’ll pay for a new NID water line to homeowners in the East Bennett area. How kind. Fact is that dewatering the mine may suck those private wells dry. And by the way, you said the report’s “significant impacts” can be mitigated. What about “will” be mitigated?

Come on, let’s be serious. Nevada County can’t afford to monitor our work adequately, and besides, is that where you want your tax money to go? Mitigation of mining destruction has always been a joke, anyway. Take a look at our company’s last mine, in British Columbia. The entire bond we posted cleaned up just a little of the mess, and the taxpayers there will be stuck with the rest, more than a million bucks. But really, shouldn’t we all chip in for a good cause?

I heard you’re going to hire 312 new employees. How many will be local?

We’re planning on two-thirds. But that may change, so don’t hold me to it.

And where will the non-local employees live? Are you aware there’s a housing crunch here?

Trust me.

Your employees will make an average of $95,000, right?

Well, actually, to sweeten the pot we’ve already given them a raise. Now the average is $122,000.

If that’s the average, how much will the underground workers make? On second thought, never mind. Why am I even asking? I heard that in your last venture you went bankrupt and couldn’t even give 50 of your workers their promised severance pay.

Look, we’re giving Nevada County a chance to participate in a historic and enriching venture. What else do you want? The report says the mine won’t significantly affect anything in your county, so if you feel affected it’s insignificant. Why are you so negative? Instead of complaining, you can join us and make a profit. You, too, can own a piece of this great California gold mine for only 67 cents a share.

Excuse me, but you’re hard to believe. You’ve already showed us an obviously fake poll, a flier that’s mostly misinformation, and such heavy-handed public relations in general that you must think of us as Ignorant Rube County. Am I right about that?

I hope so.

Jeff Kane lives in Nevada City.


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