"It is our responsibility and honor to provide the ethics of care and guardianship to this land. Prioritizing profit over sustainability is an equity and rights concern for indigenous peoples and all local communities. We say NO to this egregious IMM project, and NO to certifying the FEIR." Marion Blair is with Earth Justice Ministries.
This opinion piece was originally published in The Union.
April 22, 2023
Record drought and wildfires, and a winter of a dozen atmospheric rivers in California make it clear that we have a climate crisis impacting California, our beloved communities of Grass Valley and Nevada City, and beyond.
Earth Justice Ministries’ mission statement includes the following: “We connect faith to actions that bring hope for the earth, the human family, and the community of life to further the cause of peace, justice and healing of the earth.” We feel it is Earth Justice Ministries’ responsibility to protect our community and combat climate change, among other things.
The proposed reopening of the IMM will not bring hope for the earth, the human family, and the community of life. As a community we need to be pushing for a just and equitable energy transition away from fossil fuels which are the driving force behind the climate crisis. In fact, California’s Senate Bill 350 aims to establish clean energy, clean air, and greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction goals, reducing its GHG emissions significantly within the next decade (to 40% of 1990 levels by the year 2030).
SB 350 also requires the state to double statewide energy efficiency savings in electricity and natural gas uses by 2030. Yet mine operations are projected to use as much electricity in one year, as the entire town of Grass Valley uses in a year (approximately 50,000 megawatts.)
Californians have been working hard to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by switching to cleaner energy sources, and since 1990 clean energy sources have increased by 22%. Still, over 40% of GHG emission come from vehicles, a quarter of which are heavy trucks.
The FEIR downplays the impacts of GHG emissions this project would create, along with many other environmental impacts that our attentive community questioned in the DEIR. The repeated use of Master responses whitewashes the significance of these impacts under a legal cloak of empty and often conflicting statements. Specifically, the following FEIR Master response 25 states:
“The actions within the EAP (Energy Action Plan) are voluntary and do not require the County or community to meet the reduction goals. Nevertheless…the Project is found to be consistent with the EAP.” This statement is followed by a chart of the “assumptions” regarding how the mine will voluntarily reduce its use of electricity.
First of all, assumptions are not strategies. Secondly, we do not believe the project owners will voluntarily reduce the use of electricity. They are said to be voluntarily cleaning up the Centennial Site and yet we still have no Department of Toxic Substances Report.
This project will not bring hope for the human family, nor will it bring healing to the earth. This land is heritage Nisenan land, which was never ceded to immigrants. There has been little attempt made in the FEIR to consider the cultural resources of these indigenous people whose ancestral land and livelihoods were virtually destroyed by gold mining.
A recent personal conversation with Wanda Enos, of the Kelly/ Enos Humwak, representing the local Nisenan community, confirms they were never consulted, contrary to the following statement (on p837 Vol 4 of the FEIR) which states: “local tribes were notified and invited to consult on the proposed project, and such information was presented in the DEIR.”
This is another whitewash to make it appear that the EIR is complying with CEQA.
It is our responsibility and honor to provide the ethics of care and guardianship to this land. Prioritizing profit over sustainability is an equity and rights concern for indigenous peoples and all local communities. We say NO to this egregious IMM project, and NO to certifying the FEIR.
Marion Blair, Earth Justice Ministries