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Jim Bair: Clear and independent voices against Rise Gold’s mining plans

In a column by The Union’s publisher (Jan. 21), Rise Gold opponents were compared to anti-vaxxers — both groups are probably insulted.

Is Don Rogers implying that we are a small group spouting “baloney” by “scientific” standards? Quite the opposite.

Members of our groups include scientists, engineers, teachers, doctors, lawyers, and many other caring residents. Of course, Don says he didn’t mean those who carefully read Rise Gold’s project documents such as the draft environmental impact report. He meant those “unhinged from the science.”

The Union publisher disparages the importance of local groups opposing the mine. Is it because of a financial comparison to Rise Gold Inc. (RYES), which continues to add investment capital to its war chest via a securities sale worth $2.2 million?

We don’t have that budget, especially for full-page ads in The Union or very expensive mailers. But we are composed of numerous organizations, mostly nonprofit, over 3,000 individuals, and local business owners who have stated their opposition in writing.

One organization is the Unitarian Universalist Community of the Mountains in Grass Valley. We voted unanimously to oppose the mine and form the Stop the Mine Task Force. We embrace faith and science. We are not political or interested in profit. We observe that the mine proposal is a violation of our moral and our ethical values, which include “do no harm.”

Rise Gold’s supposedly “scientific” findings are convoluted, deceptive, and serve one goal: profit. Science is not an algorithm where information gets plugged in and out comes truth.

Values must be applied. Consider that science mastered nuclear fission, but values led to the bomb. So, while Rise Gold has produced an overwhelming amount of data they declare to be “scientific analysis,” in the end their misuse of science violates our values.

The inaccurate conclusions demand this project be stopped because it will harm people (“Why Don’t We Trust Rise Gold,“ The Union, Dec. 7, 2020, and others).

There have been over 110 letters/articles published in The Union describing the unacceptable harms and dangers of the proposed mine.

Any one of the articles causes many of us ask, “Why would the county even consider Rise Gold’s proposal?”

Rise Gold claims that they can “mitigate negative impacts” ranging from loss of water to cancer-causing pollution, but the draft environmental impact report details do not support their conclusions.

One of the most dangerous impacts is air pollution, which can hurt people miles from mining activity. Our investigation reveals that the respiratory damage from airborne toxins such as asbestos can increase mortality in Nevada County. Outdoor airborne asbestos fibers are extremely small, lethal, and cause lung cancer.

Air pollution alone is sufficient reason to reject the mine proposal (Dr. Jeff Kane’s “Enjoy breathing? Consider the proposed mine,” The Union, Feb. 14). Rise Gold claims that airborne pollutants including massive increases in diesel exhaust are significant but acceptable. They are not: Just one additional death from lung cancer is totally unacceptable.

Rise Gold’s marketing also makes false and deceptive claims. For example, in a recent full-page ad in this newspaper (Jan. 7), they claimed “no significant impacts,” a blatant disregard for the report! Even county publications state that there are three draft environmental impact report areas of significant and unavoidable negative impacts that cannot be feasibly mitigated.

More disturbing is the unscientific and self-serving “survey” funded by Rise Gold. A number of those called who responded with, “I’m against the mine,” had the call canceled. Several letters in The Union call out this egregious marketing ploy, including Daniel Desmond’s “Mine survey flawed,” Oct. 20, 2021, and Darrell Berkheimer’s “Mine snow job fails,” July 9, 2021.

We understand that “scientific” data can be interpreted in different ways. But the self-serving bias in Rise Gold’s claims is being called out in our comments and letters.

Join with us in commenting on the draft report before April 4. The county has done an excellent job making all the documentation available on Don’t be intimidated by these documents. A bit of study can cut through the jargon and catch the inadequacies. This a crucial step to making your voice clear and independent.

Jim Bair is the leader of Stop the Mine Task Force of The Unitarian Universalist Community of the Mountains in Grass Valley, a representative of The Elders Action Network of Northern California, a former Grass Valley planning commissioner, and a scientist at Stanford, USAF Labs, and Bell-Northern Labs. He lives in Grass Valley.


This opinion piece was originally published in The Union.


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