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- MineWatch Meeting Sept 2023- VESTED RIGHTS
The MineWatch Community Meeting in September was a rare in-person event. View the recording below or download the PDF below for a quick overview. Opening - Shafted - Filmmakers Lou Douros and Larry Huntington introduce a new chapter in their series of short films about the mine project. 01:11 – Rise Gold News – CEA Foundation volunteer, John Vaughan talks about the outcomes of Rise Gold CEO Ben Mossman's trial in Canada and the company's appointment of a new CEO. 06:23 – Project Update / Vested Rights - CEA Foundation President Ralph Silberstein gives an update on project status and in-depth overview of Rise Gold's petition for vested rights. 21:15 – What's the Risk? – CEA Foundation volunteer and Wells Coalition organizer, Christy Hubbard, talks about what's at risk if vested rights are granted. 28:25 – Questions and Answers 41:40 – Never Again – CEA Foundation volunteer and Wells Coalition organizer, Gary Pierazzi, talks about the cost to the community of fighting efforts to reopen the mine and calls for a future action to protect homeowners from future battles. 47:50 – Take Action - CEA Foundation organizer Traci Sheehan helps attendees understand how to take action in the coming months. Note: Shafted is a GoFundMe project. Learn more. Note: CEA Foundation's legal team is preparing a response to Rise Gold's vested rights petition. Please considering making a donation to help. PDF SLIDES
- MineWatch Community Meeting Sept. 26
It’s time to ACTIVE-ATE with FREE PIZZA! Join us on Tuesday September 26th, 6:00 to 7:30pm. Nevada County will be making final decisions about the Idaho-Maryland Mine in the coming months. We need all hands on deck to prepare for two critical hearings coming in October and December. This will be a rare IN PERSON community meeting from 6:00 to 7:30pm at the Nevada County Associations of Realtors’ Esterly Hall. 336 Crown Point Circle, Grass Valley, CA. Please join us! Here’s a peek at the agenda. - Status report – Vested Rights vs. Condition Use Permit - Refresher – Why this project can’t be fixed - Organize – What we can all do to take action - Social time – Gather & mill with fellow rabble-rousers WITH Pizza! Bonus – We may be doing some cheering too since Mossman’s sentencing date for his guilty verdict in Canadian court is currently set for the same day, September 26. If you can’t make it to the meeting in person, consider joining by Zoom. Please REGISTER in advance to get a personalized link.
- March Against The Mine!
Join us on Sunday September 17, 1:30 – 3pm at the Constitution Day Parade in Nevada City. Rise Gold would like nothing better than to see the community stand down and stop fighting. In an LA Times article last year, their CEO even told the reporter he figured local activists would "wear down. Eventually." Let's prove him wrong! We need all feet on Broad Street! If you’ve marched against the mine before, you know that this is a super-fun community event and a rewarding experience. The crowd cheers, chants, and sings with us! We promise you will be glad you joined. We meet at 1:30 at the top of Broad Street in Nevada City and the parade begins at 2 p.m. Grab your sign, a friend, and a flag, and we will see you there! There will be a free shuttle to the parade. The shuttle runs SUNDAY from Noon to 6 pm Park for free at the Nevada County Government Center just off Highway 49 at 950 Maidu Avenue. Take the shuttle into town for free. More info about the weekend events can be found here: Constitution Day 2023 - Nevada City, California (nevadacitychamber.com) Please RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org so we can track how many folks we will have and identify a few “helpers”.
- CEA Responds To Vested Rights Maneuver
"..the biggest challenge for Rise Gold is to prove that mining activities have been ongoing continuously since before the current use permit requirements were enacted…" August 21, 2023 Listen to KNCO Radio's interview with Laurie Oberholzer from CEA Foundation here.
- MineWatch Newsletter Archive
Interested in learning about the latest developments in the fight against the mine? Rereading recent newsletters is a great way to catch up.
- Rise Gold may apply for “vested right to mine”
Required public hearing will delay BOS decision on Rise Gold application. Read the full article in YubaNet. Excerpts from a YubaNet article August 15, 2023 During the recent Board of Supervisors meeting an agenda item by County Counsel’s Office, increasing the contract price for legal services pertaining to the Rise Gold project, yielded a new development. Rise Gold, via their lawyer, informed the county they consider filing a petition granting them the “vested right to mine.” If Rise Gold moves forward with the petition for vested rights, Nevada County will have to hold public hearings on the matter. A California Appeals Court decision in 2006 requires vested rights decisions cannot be simply determined by the lead agency (generally a county or a city) but are subject to noticed public hearings. ... Any vested mine does not need to apply for a mining permit to the county and no California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) document for the mining operation itself is required. Another exemption concerns grading permits for roads, landing pads, staging areas, etc. Culverts and diversion ponds are also exempt from any oversight under the vested right to mine. Read the full article in Yubanet.
- Press RELEASE: Rise Gold seeks to side-step requirements for mining use permit
Rise Gold is attempting to circumvent the County’s permitting process by claiming they have “vested rights” to mine. For Immediate Release: August 22, 2023 Contacts: Traci Sheehan Community Environmental Advocates Foundation email@example.com Rise Gold seeks to side-step requirements for mining use permit Grass Valley, CA – At this year’s May 11 public hearing for the Idaho-Maryland Mine, the Nevada County Planning Commission voted unanimously against the Mine’s Use Permit and Environmental Impact Report (EIR). Now faced with the real possibility of a NO vote by the Board of Supervisors at the final hearings, Rise Gold is trying an unusual tactic aimed at forcing the County to let them reopen the mine. In a maneuver that would circumvent the normal Use Permit requirements of Nevada County, Rise Gold has met with County representatives and announced that they intend to petition for “Vested Rights” to mine the Idaho-Maryland Mine. Katharine Elliott, County Counsel, stated at the Board meeting on Aug 8 that “…in meetings with Rise Gold recently, they have asserted that they have a vested right to mine. A vested right is a legal principle that asserts that they have a legal right to mine on the Brunswick site. They have not yet filed the petition, but they have told me that they are planning to file that petition. Once they do that, we have a mandate to address that and to take that first before the Planning Commission and then to the Board of Supervisors.” ( See Nevada County Board of Supervisors Meeting August 8, 2023 Part Two | YouTube) Vested rights are rights held by entities that were already in operation prior to the establishment of the current, more restrictive regulations. A mine operating before the inception of the current Use Permit regulations can, in certain cases, establish vested rights and be exempted from those regulations. If the County determines that Rise Gold meets the conditions for “Vested Rights”, the Use Permit that is currently headed for the Board of Supervisors for a final vote would not be required. In effect, Rise would be able to operate without having to comply with many of the conditions of approval and mitigations required under the current Use Permit application. The granting of Vested Rights is a discretionary decision that would be made by the County. After Rise submits a petition for Vested Rights, draft documents would be available for review and Rise would present its case to the Planning Commission in a Public Hearing. The Board would subsequently take the Commission’s recommendation and make the final decision. The burden of proof is upon the applicant to demonstrate the vested rights claim. The most challenging requirement is to prove that mining activities have been ongoing continuously since before the current Use Permit requirements were enacted. In the case of the Idaho-Maryland Mine, that means that Rise must prove that, after the mine shut down in 1956-57, some level of legal mining activity has persisted at the Idaho-Maryland Mine site over the 65 years since the shut-down. This is not the first time the issue of Vested Rights has surfaced locally. Rise Gold’s attorney, Braden Chadwick, petitioned for Vested Rights in 2010 while representing the Blue Lead Mine. In that case, the Blue Lead applicants made the claim that they didn’t need a Use Permit because of vested rights, but a closer examination of the facts showed that photos submitted were from other mines and the evidence was unsupported. Because of this, the Planning Commission denied the request, and Blue Lead was required to obtain a normal Use Permit. Currently, the Board of Supervisors is scheduled to make a decision on the Idaho-Maryland Mine Use Permit at public hearings on October 2nd and 3rd. This is the final step of a process that began in 2020. The final EIR for the project was released in December 2022. In response, over one thousand comments were submitted by citizens to the County expressing serious concerns about the risks of the mine and the inadequacy of the environmental report. In May 2023, the County Planning Commission unanimously recommended that the Board of Supervisors not certify the EIR and not grant the Use Permit. In an unusual coincidence, Rise Gold CEO Benjamin Mossman is scheduled to be sentenced on pollution charges in Canada on September 26th, just one week before the Board of Supervisors’ final vote. Mossman was found guilty in British Columbia for the environmental damage caused at the Yellow Giant Mine, which polluted tribal waters, went bankrupt and left Canadians with insufficient funds to clean up the damage. The sentencing could include prison time. Ralph Silberstein, CEA Foundation President, stated “This maneuver to obtain vested rights at this stage of the approval process is very questionable. If Rise felt that they had vested rights, why spend years of time and millions of dollars to get to this point in the normal Use Permitting process? It seems very unlikely that Rise has a valid case. Perhaps they are simply seeking to delay the final hearings.” More information on the project can be found on the County project webpage. For more information about the potential re-opening of the Idaho-Maryland Mine visit: www.MineWatchNC.org About CEA Foundation: Community Environmental Advocates Foundation (CEA Foundation) performs research, education, and advocacy to promote responsible land use and environmental protection policies in Nevada County. CEA Foundation is the leader of MineWatch, a campaign that brings together a coalition of nonprofit organizations, residents, and businesses opposed to the mine. Read this in The Union newspaper.
- Man behind plan to reopen Grass Valley gold mine faced charges. Here are the verdicts.
"Ben Mossman, the man behind a controversial plan to reopen a shuttered gold mine in Grass Valley, has been found guilty of 13 environmental crimes but was exonerated on another 10 counts in connection with another mine project in British Columbia." Excerpts from a The Sacramento Bee article by Randy Diamond July 20, 2023 The court ruling involves a failed gold mine on an island off the coast of British Columbia that turned into a toxic site due to mine waste leaks. Ben Mossman is due to be sentenced on Sept. 26 in Prince Rupert Laws Court Mossman began mining operations in 2014 on Banks Island, but the next year government mine inspectors cited his company, saying mine waste and contaminated water were leaking into creeks, ponds and wetlands. Bank Island Gold declared bankruptcy in 2015 several months after the British Columbia government shut down the mine. Read the rest of the article at The Sacramento Bee.
- John Vaughan: Rise Gold’s corporate culture — Lawyers, lawyers and more lawyers
It appears that an element of Rise’s Corporate Culture is a willingness to use threats of legal action to get their way. This opinion piece was first published in The Union. July 13, 2023 Last month, I wrote about the corporate temper tantrum Rise displayed after the unanimous Planning Commission vote against their proposed project (“Comments on a corporate tantrum at Rise Gold”, The Union Ideas & Opinions, 06/10). It appears that another element of Rise’s Corporate Culture is a willingness to use threats of legal action to get their way. A few examples include: After receipt of some negative comments in response to the Draft EIR from the Air Quality Board, Rise’s Attorney sent a long letter to the Air Quality Board claiming a number of grievances, including bias, influence by project opponents, defamation, violation of Constitutional Rights, challenges to the science and claims that Rise’s business interests had been harmed. The lawyers letter concludes with threats of lawsuits and demands a retraction. The Air Quality Board apparently bent to their demands. If Rise’s grievances with the Air Quality Board sound familiar, that’s because it’s basically the same elements included in the Rise June 1st letter sent to the Board of Supervisors following the Planning Commission’s unanimous vote against their proposed project. Grievance after grievance because the Planning Commission did their job, and the outcome was not what Rise wanted. Following their June 1st letter to the Supervisors, Rise has submitted Public Record Act Requests (PRAs) affecting dozens and dozens of people at several Agencies, including Nevada County and Nevada Irrigation District. Each of these requests does the typical lawyer thing, demanding “any and all” documentation about anything that’s ever happened regarding the Rise project in over 30 different categories. Responding to PRA’s requires volumes of paper and likely requires hundreds of hours of staff time to collect data and provide a response. This effort seems to be aimed at finding “evidence” that proves a conspiracy, when the facts are that what happened before and during the Planning Commission Hearing is a great example of democracy in action. Of course, Rise has a right to the information, but what we are seeing may well be a key part of the Rise Corporate Culture. If the Board of Supervisors approves this project, it’s unlikely the legal actions will end. Rise wants us to believe that no environmental issues of any kind will happen at any time for any reason for 80 years. But just for fun, let’s hypothetically suppose that some water quality reports are late or show toxins leaking into Wolf Creek, or maybe the waste rock asbestos content is higher than acceptable limits, or wells start going dry. Any of those scenarios and dozens of others require enforcement actions by the County or an outside Agency. These legitimate Agency demands for compliance will likely be met by Rise’s Attorney with obfuscation, delays, more long letters claiming County Staff or Agency bias, defamation, violation of Constitutional Rights, challenges to the science and threats of lawsuits. Good luck with getting any non-compliance enforced. In addition, close examination of the wording in the FEIR and the enforceability of the mitigations and conditions of approval will reveal they are riddled with ambiguity. Such ambiguities in the FEIR feed a corporate strategy which appears to be designed to ensure that no one but Rise will decide whether or not they are in compliance, whether or not anything has to be done about it, and when it will be done. All the mitigations, compliance promises, and plans noted in the FEIR and Development Agreement are likely just smoke and mirrors as the apparent plan is to use the Rise lawyers to do whatever they want. One might think that the Rise Board and especially the Rise CEO had learned from the negative outcomes (for the community, the employees, the environment, and the CEO) at the Banks Island mine in Canada. But Corporate Culture is often a reflection of leadership and is very difficult and unlikely to change. You can’t fix a bad idea with threats and empty promises. Please encourage your County Supervisor to “Just Say No” to all parts of the Rise project. You can find your Supervisors contact information and detailed analysis of why the Rise project is wrong for Nevada County at www.minewatchnc.org. John Vaughan, Grass Valley
- Robert Hubbard: Unanswered Questions about the Idaho-Maryland Mine
Given the history of Rise Gold's CEO and the company itself, two key questions remain that cast significant doubt on the entire venture. This opinion piece was originally published in The Union. July 11, 2023 Maya Angelou said, “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.” THE CEO’s HISTORY In January, 2011, Current Rise Gold CEO Ben Mossman founded the junior mining company Banks Island Gold in Canada and subsequently began mineral exploration for the Yellow Giant gold mine in the remote tribal territory of the Gitxaala [pronounced Kitkatla] Nation on Banks Island in northern BC, Canada. In November of 2012, he put the mine into commercial production. Because the Canadian government cannot afford to monitor the activities of all the mines that exist in the country, it requires that events which are out of compliance with Canadian mining law be reported by the mine operator. Over the next 3 years, a series of compliance failures, including an overstuffed explosive locker whose doors would not close, a series of toxic waste spills which polluted the shellfish banks and fishing waters of the Gitxaala Nation, numerous safety violations, and ore being processed from an unlicensed site resulted in 2 stop work orders (which the mine failed to honor), and shortly afterwards, a full shutdown order in July, 2015. In Jan, 2016, Banks Island Gold declared Bankruptcy. The reclamation bond posted was far from sufficient to repair the harm. Mossman walked away and left taxpayers holding the bag for the damages, the Gitxaala Nation’s food supply damaged, and employers and suppliers unpaid. THE COMPANY HISTORY Mining companies fall into two categories: major mining companies and junior mining companies. Junior mining companies explore for minerals and attempt to find funding to mine them. They are famous for mining investors, rather than minerals. The junior mining company now known as Rise Gold was originally incorporated on Feb. 9, 2007 under the name Atlantic Resources, and has a checkered history. Over the next 9 years, the company bought mineral rights, attracted investors, failed to realize a profit and acquired new CEOs, changing the name of the company a number of times. On August 1, 2016, seven months after bankrupting in Canada, Ben Mossman was named as CEO of the former Atlantic Resources, changing the name to Rise Gold. He then acquired the Idaho-Maryland Mine property on Aug 30, 2016 for $2,000,000. He applied to the county for a permit to reopen the Idaho-Maryland Mine, and the events which followed are local history. GUILTY On July 7, 2023 Mossman was found personally guilty of 13 of the 23 charges of environmental crimes he has been fighting in Canadian courts since 2015. Although the prosecution was unable to prove that Mossman was ‘directly responsible’ for the other 10 charges, he was CEO at the time. Ultimate responsibility for the actions of his company stop at his desk. Read more in the article: Rise Gold’s CEO found guilty on 13 counts in British Columbia retrial… TWO IMPORTANT QUESTIONS Although numerous problems with reopening the Mine have been thoroughly discussed, there are two important questions that I feel have been left out of that discussion. First, who will watch the watchers? Neither the State of California, nor Nevada County has the resources to independently monitor compliance with the air, water, mine waste and noise standards of this operation. Like in Canada, Rise Gold will need to be self-reporting. We have seen how well that worked in Canada. Should the mine reopen, the County should require from Rise Gold sufficient funds to pay for mining operation compliance to be monitored 24/7 by a County environmental scientist/engineer for the duration of the mine’s operation. Second, Rise Gold’s big claims to benefit the County are the jobs it is offering, and the money its employees will bring to the area. However, Rise also says (to set our minds at rest around its operations) that it uses the most modern mining methods. But the most modern mining methods include automated mining, where robotic machines replace human workers. Keep in mind that it was only 54 years between the Wright Bros flight and astronauts landing on the moon. How long will human labor be working the mine, should it open? How long will those jobs last? My suggestion to the Board of Supervisors: Ben Mossman has shown us who he is. Believe him. Robert Hubbard, Grass Valley
- Rise Gold’s CEO found guilty on 13 counts in British Columbia retrial
"When people show you who they are, believe them the first time." Ben Mossman was found guilty of 13 charges related to discharging substances into the environment above permitted amounts when he was CEO and mine manager of the Yellow Giant Gold Mine in BC Canada. He was found not guilty on 10 other charges, but the judge had to some choice words to say about that. Read the full article in The Union newspaper. Excerpts: "Dan McLaughlin, Communications Counsel for the BC Prosecution Service states that the offenses with which Mr. Mossman is charged in British Columbia are “related to allegations of the discharge of waste, effluent, and other deleterious substances into the environment in contravention of several statutory regulations”. "In his written judgement, Judge Patterson repeatedly stated that he had his suspicions about the charges on which Mossman was exonerated, but that the prosecution had failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Mossman was directly responsible for the environmental damage resulting from the well-documented spills. "The judge stated that the testimony of the prosecution’s primary witness, the mine’s Environmental Manager and Site Biologist was flawed because of “her profound hostility, animosity, and negative attitude” towards Mr. Mossman and the trial process, as well as her less than satisfactory recollection of the events prior to the 2015 shutdown of the Yellow Giant Mine."
- The Allegations in Rise's Complaint letter are Meritless
CEA Foundation attorneys analyzed Rise Gold's 164-page complaint letter claiming unfair treatment and lack of due process in reaction to the May 11 Planning Commission's unanimous vote to reject the mine project and the EIR. "The allegations in Rise’s letter are meritless. At the outset, Rise fundamentally misunderstands the legislative nature of the Planning Commission’s action," wrote Ellison Folk, Attorney for Shute, Mihaly & Weinberger LLP. This following press release and analysis were also published in The Union newspaper. Read the release. Read the analysis. For Immediate Release: June 28.2023 Contact: MineConcerns@cea-nc.org Opposition Refutes Unfair Treatment Claims of Rise Gold June 28, 2023 – Grass Valley, CA – Community Environmental Advocates Foundation (CEA Foundation) reports that it sent a letter to the Nevada County Supervisors containing a legal analysis of a complaint letter submitted to Nevada County by Rise Grass Valley. Rise Grass Valley is a subsidiary of the Canadian-headquartered junior mining company Rise Gold, and is applying to reopen the long-shuttered Idaho-Maryland Mine. At a public hearing on May 12, the Nevada County Planning Commission voted unanimously to recommend a NO vote on the Mine project and Environmental Impact Report (EIR). In response, Rise Gold submitted a 164-page complaint letter to the Nevada County Board of Supervisors on June 1 containing numerous assertions of unfair treatment, bias, and violations of due process in the processing of the Mine application. A story about the complaint was published in The Union, and in various other media including online investment sites. “Rise Gold is apparently attempting to create a false narrative of conspiracy and bias in order to sway public opinion and discredit the unanimous vote by the Planning Commission recommending that the project be denied,” stated Ralph Silberstein, President, CEA Foundation. Nevada County staff and the Board of Supervisors generally respond to such complaints under the guidance of County Counsel and in this case are likely informed as to the validity of the Rise objections, but CEA Foundation submitted their legal analysis of the complaint to the County in order to shed more light on the subject. A full copy of the CEA Foundation legal analysis is included below. The original Rise complaint document is here. (PDF) According to CEA Foundation’s legal analysis, the Rise complaint letter makes allegations of violations in due process and alludes to the requirements for the Planning Commission to act in a quasi-adjudicatory (court-like) capacity. However, the Commission was acting in a quasi-legislative capacity when it made its recommendations on the Project, not quasi-adjudicatory. This is because they were making a recommendation on a rezoning issue. It is well established law that rezoning decisions are categorically considered legislative acts. The analysis goes on to say that the hearing process was entirely consistent with the legal principles that actually govern these types of legislative decisions. Courts have long recognized that local decision makers have “not only a right but an obligation to discuss issues of vital concern” with their constituents and to “state [their] views on matters of public importance.” (City of Fairfield v. Superior Court 1975). In addition, under the County’s Land Use and Development Code, the Commission was tasked with determining whether the rezone would be “consistent with and further” the County’s General Plan policies and “will not be detrimental to the public interest, health, safety, convenience, or welfare of the County.” The Planning Commission satisfied these obligations, heard from the public, scrutinized the documents provided to them, shared their personal views and experiences, and made a unanimous decision. CEA’s analysis points out that even if one assumed that the court-like standards did apply in some way, the Commission satisfied those requirements. The Planning Commission has “an obligation to discuss issues of vital concern with [their] constituents.” (Fairfield) And association with members of community groups opposed to a project, or even membership in such groups, does not establish bias. Nor does having a point of view about a question of law or policy a disqualification by itself. Moreover, the Planning Commission was merely issuing a recommendation. Nothing in Rise Gold’s complaint letter threatens the validity of the Board’s own upcoming decision on the Project. Additional grievances were stated by Rise, including violations of the Brown Act, but no evidence was provided. In summary, CEA Foundation’s analysis found that the allegations made by Rise Gold appear to be unfounded, and that what was evident in the hearing was active engagement on the part of the community and an informed and attentive Planning Commissioner fulfilling its responsibilities under the law. The Board of Supervisors will make the final decision on the project during the public hearings, currently scheduled for Oct 2 and Oct 3. Silberstein was appreciative of the legal analysis, adding “the processing of the Rise application, the active engagement of the public, and the conduct of the Planning Commission were a good example of how democracy is supposed to work. We encourage the Board of Supervisors to continue with the normal processing of this project, to not be intimidated with threats or accusations of foul play, and to deny the project.” For more information about the potential re-opening of the Idaho-Maryland Mine visit: www.MineWatchNC.org *** About CEA Foundation: Community Environmental Advocates Foundation (CEA Foundation) performs research, education, and advocacy to promote responsible land use and environmental protection policies in Nevada County. www.cea-nc.org/ CEA Foundation is the sponsor of MineWatch, a campaign that brings together a coalition of nonprofit organizations, residents, and businesses opposed to the mine. www.MineWatchNC.org. Read this release in The Union Newspaper. Read the full text of the Shute, Mihaly, Weinberger analysis in the Union Newspaper. Following is the full text of the legal analysis letter. June 27, 2023 Via Electronic Mail Only Board of Supervisors Nevada County 950 Maidu Avenue Nevada City, CA 95959 firstname.lastname@example.org Re: Response to Rise Grass Valley’s Letter to Board Dear Board Members: On behalf of the Community Environmental Advocates Foundation, we write to address the letter that Rise Grass Valley, Inc. (“Rise”) submitted to the Nevada County Board of supervisors (“Board”) on June 1, 2023. The letter alleges that Rise was deprived of due process at the County Planning Commission’s hearing on the Idaho-Maryland Mine Project (“Project”).1 During this hearing, the Planning Commission unanimously voted to recommend that the Board deny the Project and decline to certify its Environmental Impact Report (“EIR”). The allegations in Rise’s letter are meritless. At the outset, Rise fundamentally misunderstands the legislative nature of the Planning Commission’s action. This misunderstanding renders virtually all of Rise’s many complaints irrelevant. Regardless, the Planning Commission’s consideration of the Project comported both with due process principles and with the Commission’s obligations to consider public input on a matter of great local importance. Rise might have preferred for the Planning Commission to ignore the community’s views or reach a different decision. But this does not make the Commission’s process or recommendations illegitimate. In any event, Rise’s allegations have no bearing on the Board’s own future decision on the Project. Rise’s entire letteris premised on an assumption that procedural due process requirements applied to the Planning Commission’s decision. That assumption is wrong. The due process principles that Rise cites apply only when a local decision-making body is acting in a quasi-adjudicatory capacity. Save Civita because Sudberry Won’t v. City of San Diego (2021) 72 Cal.App.5th 957, 983–84. They do not apply to quasi-legislative acts.2 Id.; id. at 994 & n.45. The Planning Commission was acting in a quasi-legislative capacity when it made its recommendations on the Project. The Project cannot be developed unless the County rezones the Project site. And the Planning Commission expressly recommended to deny the rezoningapplication.3 The California Supreme Court made clear over forty years ago that such rezoning decisions are categorically legislative. See Arnel Dev. Co. v. City of Costa Mesa (1980) 28 Cal.3d 511, 524 (in bank) (“[T]he current California rule that rezoning is a legislative act is well settled by precedent and comports with both federal and state constitutional requirements.”); see also id. at 514, 521–25. As a result, the Planning Commission’s decision was not subject to due process principles.4 See id. at 521; Save Civita, 72 Cal.App.5th at 994 & n.45. In overlooking these basic rules, Rise’s letter wastes a dozen pages arguing that the Planning Commission violated requirements that did not apply in the first place. The hearing process was entirely consistent with the legal principles that actually govern these types of legislative decisions. Courts have long recognized that local decisionmakers have “not only a right but an obligation to discuss issues of vital concern” with their constituents and to “state[their] views on matters of public importance.” City of Fairfield v. Superior Court (1975) 14 Cal.3d 768, 780 (in bank). These obligations are especially acute when the decision involves the location and construction of a major project that could have significant economic and environmental impacts on the region. See id.; see also Cohan, 30 Cal.App.4th at 559 (“[O]pposition of neighbors to a development project is a legitimate factor in legislative decision making.”). Moreover, under the County’s Land Use and Development Code, the Planning Commission was specifically tasked with determining whether the rezone would be “consistent with and further” the County’s General Plan policies and “will not be detrimental to the public interest, health, safety, convenience, or welfare of the County.” Nevada Cty. Land Use & Dev. Code (“LUDC”)§ L-II 5.9(G)(1), (2); see also Staff Report 78, 85–86, 116–19. And, under the California Environmental Quality Act (“CEQA”), the County was required to solicit, consider, and respond to input from the public and other agencies regarding the Project’s environmental impacts. See CEQA Guidelines §§ 15086– 15088. The Planning Commission satisfied these obligations. Its members heard and respected the public’s views regarding a sprawling, complicated Project that would impact the community for decades. They carefully scrutinized the analyses provided by their own staff, Rise and its consultants, and other agencies. And they disclosed their personal views on these matters, which were informed both by the information presented during the hearing process and by their own relevant experiences. After considering that wide range of input, they reached a unanimous decision that the Project would not advance the County’s policy interests. This was not a biased adjudication. It was a legislative process working as intended. Additionally, even assuming that due process principles applied in some way to the Planning Commission’s action, the Commission satisfied those requirements. While Rise’s letter sets forth a laundry list of purported transgressions, a few core legal principles show that the Commission was not biased against Rise: First, because none of the Planning Commissioners had a “financial interest in the outcome of the” vote, they are all “presumed to be impartial.” Hauser v. Ventura Cty. Bd. of Supervisors (2018) 20 Cal.App.5th 572, 580. Rise’s scattered allegations cannot overcome that starting presumption. Second, because the Planning Commissioners have “an obligation to discuss issues of vital concern with [their] constituents,” Rise could not have been deprived of a fair hearing simply because the Commissioners were contacted by or met with members of the public. City of Fairfield, 14 Cal.3d at 780; see also Petrovich, 48 Cal.App.5th at 974; Hauser, 20 Cal.App.5th at 580. It is puzzling that Rise would suggest otherwise, given that Rise itself has met with County officials multiple times and apparently intends to do so in the future. Third, although Rise faults Planning Commissioners merely for associating with members of community groups opposed to the Project, a decisionmaker can be an active member of such a group without being impermissibly biased against a project. See Petrovich, 48 Cal.App.5th at 971, 974 (holding council member’s active membership in neighborhood association opposed to project “did not establish bias” in and of itself). Fourth, even in a quasi-adjudicatory context, decisionmakers retain some ability to express their views on the merits of pending projects. See City of Fairfield, 14 Cal.3d at 780; Petrovich, 48 Cal.App.5th at 974; Cohan, 30 Cal.App.4th at 559 (“[A] councilperson has a right to state views or concerns on matters of community policy without having his voted impeached.”); Breakzone, 81 Cal.App.4th at 1234 n.23 (“[A] point of view about a question of law or policy is not a disqualification by itself, and . . . a predisposition about legislative facts that helps answer a question of law or policy is not by itself a disqualification.”). The Planning Commissioners’ remarks were consistent with these guidelines. In short, the Planning Commission’s action plainly was not adjudicatory. Yet Rise nonetheless received all the due process to which it would have been entitled if it were. Finally, putting all else aside, nothing in Rise’s letter threatens the validity of the Board’s own upcoming decision on the Project. Consistent with the legislative nature of its actions, the Planning Commission merely issued recommendations to the Board. It did not—and could not—definitively deny the rezone, decline to certify the EIR, or address any of the many other approvals the Project requires. See LUDC § L-II 5.9(E);Govt. Code § 65855.Those final decisions rest within the independent judgment of the Board and will be made only after another public hearing process. See LUDC § L-II 5.9(F); Govt. Code §§ 65856,65857; CEQA Guidelines § 15025(b). During that process, Rise is free to present any complaints that the Planning Commission got the facts wrong, considered improper evidence, or weighed the public policy considerations incorrectly—as Rise already has, and surely will continue to do. Once the Board has considered those allegations and all the relevant information, it can and should reach the same well-reasoned conclusions as the Planning Commission. But those decisions will be the Board’s alone. _________________ 1 The letter includes a single cursory allegation that County officials also violated the Brown Act. Rise never explains what Brown Act violations it believes the County has committed and nothing described in the letter implicates the Act. 2 Consistent with this rule, each of the land use cases that Rise’s letter references involved a quasi-adjudicatory decision. See Petrovich Dev. Co., LLC v. City of Sacramento (2020) 48 Cal.App.5th 963, 972; Woody’s Group,Inc. v. City of Newport Beach (2015) 233 Cal.App.4th 1012, 1021; Nasha LLC v. City of Los Angeles (2004) 125 Cal.App.4th 470, 482; Breakzone Billiards v. City of Torrance (2000) 81 Cal.App.4th 1205, 1223–24; Clark v. City of Hermosa Beach (1996) 48 Cal.App.4th 1152, 1170–71; Cohan v. City of Thousand Oaks (1994) 30 Cal.App.4th 547, 554–55, 559. 3 Specifically, the Planning Commission unanimously voted “to approve Recommendation A [in the Planning Commission Staff Report], with the exception of not certifying the Environmental Impact Report. ”May 11 Special Meeting Rec. 7:37:20. “Recommendation A” includes the recommendation “that the Board of Supervisors deny the Rezone(RZN12- 0002) to rezone the parcels located at the Brunswick Industrial Site from Light-Industrial with Site Performance Combining District (M1-SP) to Light Industrial with Mineral Extraction Combining District (M1-ME).” Staff Report 5. Recommendation A involved taking no action on the necessary Development Agreement (MIS22-0019), since the denial of the rezone would be sufficient to deny the Project outright. See id. But any express decision on the Development Agreement would also be a legislative action. See S.F. Tomorrow, 229 Cal.App.4th at 526, 528; Govt. Code § 65867.5(a), (b). 4 The same is true of the Planning Commission’s recommendation to decline to certify the EIR. Because the “underlying action that the [County] was analyzing in the EIR” was quasi-legislative, the Planning Commission’s decision regarding the EIR was itself quasi- legislative, and thus not subject to procedural due process requirements. See Save Civita, 72 Cal.App.5th at 992–94. Very truly yours, SHUTE, MIHALY & WEINBERGER LLP Ellison Folk cc: Julie Patterson Hunter, Clerk of the Board Katharine Elliott, County Counsel Laurie Oberholtzer, CEA Foundation Ralph Silberstein, CEA Foundation 1660106.2
- CEA Board of Directors: Just say no - The mine can’t be fixed
Supervisors will make the final vote in October. The unavoidable reality is... you can’t fix this project. It sits in the middle of a neighborhood that is reliant on private wells for drinking water. There is no viable solution for disposing of the mine waste. And it has an unacceptable energy footprint. This opinion piece by the Community Environmental Advocates Foundation Board of Directors was originally published in The Union. June 23, 2023 On May 11, the Nevada County Planning Commission unanimously voted “No” on the Idaho Maryland Mine project and its flawed Environmental Impact Report (EIR). Even Rise Gold’s last minute ”carrots” to reduce its impacts did not sway the Commission. And now that we have seen Rise’s conspiratorial rant about unfair treatment and indications of a lawsuit as the “stick”, we can expect that they will add more “carrots” before the project goes before the Board of Supervisors for a final vote later this summer. Regardless, the unavoidable reality is, you can’t fix this mine project. It sits in the middle of a neighborhood that is reliant on private wells for drinking water. There is no viable solution for disposing of the mine waste. And it has an unacceptable energy footprint. THE MINE WASTE PROBLEM CAN’T BE FIXED The mine project depends upon being able to dispose of the mine waste (sand tailings and waste rock) by off-site sales as fill materials or construction aggregate. Rise has tried really hard to sell the idea that the mine waste is clean enough to be used without restrictions, but the Water Board stated that the testing results were insufficient to make this determination. At stake is the risk of long term toxic mine waste discharge into our creeks, like we have from past mining projects. The most reliable test data on the potential for this hazardous drainage is from the water that currently flows out of the mine drain, and those tests show high levels of arsenic, manganese, zinc, and iron. So it is unlikely that Rise’s mine waste leachate will be any cleaner. Compounding the problem, the Air Quality Board will require all exported materials to be categorized as “Restricted” due to the potential health hazards from the rock’s asbestos content. There’s no real market for “Restricted” mine waste. Even if some or all of the mine waste tests clean enough to allow off-site sales, the market for aggregates is flooded. The EIR falsely interpreted data indicating that Sacramento would be a viable market, and failed to note that there are abundant supplies of clean aggregate already available nearer there. Furthermore, even if there were a market for the waste, the mine lacks the necessary facilities to produce most forms of construction aggregates. In other words, Rise Gold has no viable solution for disposing of the mine waste. THE THREAT TO LOCAL WELLS CAN’T BE FIXED Numerous experts assert that, because of the fractured rock system around the mine, there is no way to reliably predict the impact on local wells from pumping out the mine water. Even the computer model provided by Rise acknowledges that more data is needed to validate the model’s predictions, yet that model predicts groundwater levels to drop 1-10 feet over a large area. To complicate the problem, Rise’s hydrology documents contained significant errors regarding initial ground water conditions, and no current groundwater data was collected even though at least 3 years of data are needed for a reliable baseline. Thus, the FEIR included no means of accurately determining impacts on individual wells and no mandatory mechanisms for providing remedies. The Nevada Irrigation District has made it clear that if wells are impacted, it may take years to get easements, design and install water mains, and provide service connections to homeowners. This is unacceptable. The more than 300 well owners in the area should be completely protected from damages. GREENHOUSE GAS IMPACTS CAN’T BE FIXED “Net Zero” is the State’s goal for carbon emissions by 2045. Yet, the EIR states that the mine will emit over 9000 tons per year of greenhouse gases. The project completely fails to adequately address the emissions for the 80 year lifespan of proposed operations. The mine’s annual electricity use would be equal to 5,575 homes. This use would completely offset the amount of residential electricity reductions the County wants to achieve in its Energy Action Plan. If we’re serious about the County Energy Action Plan and the climate crisis, the mine is a non-starter. IN CONCLUSION In reaching their decision, the Planning Commission did their homework and professionally considered the evidence over the two day hearing. We hope that the Board of Supervisors will show the same level of professionalism, neither bow to the “sticks” nor be swayed by the “carrots”, and vote no on this deeply flawed project. Community Environmental Advocates Foundation Board of Directors, email email@example.com
- Community Reacts to Rise Gold's Temper Tantrum
Rise Gold wasn't happy when Nevada County Planning Commissioners voted unanimously to recommend a NO vote on both the Idaho-Maryland Mine project and the Final Environmental Impact Report (FEIR) on May 11, 2023. In response, they came out with what can only be described as a corporate temper tantrum. Community member and retired corporate attorney, Gail Schultz, wrote an opinion piece describing it as a tactic she learned in law school: “If you don’t have the facts, argue the law; if you don’t have the law, argue the facts; and if you don’t have the law or the facts, attack your opponent.” SOUR GRAPES It started with a “sour grapes” opinion piece from a Rise Gold Board member (and largest shareholder) the day after the vote – complete with a snarky assumption that our community is economically doomed without the mine, plus a personal attack on Commissioner Terrance McAteer (District 3). Read his opinion piece in The Union newspaper, and the community's response: May 13 — Lawrence W. Lepard: 'You may have blocked the mine, but how are Nevada County residents going to pay the bills?' May 17 — David Heinen: Not as simple as they hoped May 18 — Hits & Misses: Miss to Rise Gold director's claims TEMPER TANTRUM On June 1, 2023, Rise Gold submitted a 164-page letter to the County filled with complaints, assertions of unfair treatment, and public records requests — steps that typically lead up to legal actions. This was followed up with a press release that was published on the front page of the Union newspaper. Rise Gold feels that their “constitutional rights” are being violated. Among their list of complaints: comment letters submitted at the last possible minute, their supporters didn’t get early speaker numbers because the County staff are biased, and Commissioner McAteer ”utilized prepared remarks.” Leaving no grievance (or complaint) unturned, Rise Gold urges the Board of Supervisors to ”publicly disavow the Planning Commission’s recommendation.” Apparently Rise Gold thinks they can scare the Board of Supervisors into ignoring all of the problems with the project, ignore all of the defects in the FEIR, go against their own planning commission and staff, and approve the project. Read Rise Gold's press release in The Union newspaper, and the community's response: June 5 — Rise Gold calls on Nevada County Board of Supervisors to repudiate recommendation to deny the IMM Project July 7 – ‘The allegations in Rise’s letter are meritless’: CEA attorneys provide response July 6 – CEA Foundation: Opposition refutes unfair treatment claims of Rise Gold June 6 — Cecelia Royal: Desperation in Rise Gold's lame attempts June 7 — Gail F. Schulz: I do not appreciate Mr. Mossman's attacks on our planning commission June 8 — Charles Brock: Kudos to The Union for their outstanding and balanced coverage of Rise Gold’s efforts to reopen the Idaho Maryland Mine! June 9 — Gail Johnson Vaughan: No one has Constitutional rights to zoning and building changes June 10 — John Vaughan: Comments on a corporate tantrum at Rise Gold June 13 — Concerned Citizens Roundtable: You gotta know the territory Rise may question if the deck was stacked against them, but there are plenty of examples showing that the opposite was true. The City of Grass Valley, for example, had this to say in their introductory comments to the FEIR. “We are dismayed at the quality and tone of the responses which, in many cases, appear to have been written by the applicant's representative rather than an objective senior County staff member. The cavalier tone of some of the responses to a concerned city who will suffer concrete significant impacts as a result of the Project is disappointing.” “[The City] believes the FEIR and the County's response have failed to remedy major deficiencies in the assessment of air quality, greenhouse gases, land use, noise, and traffic, and consideration of alternatives which could reduce, or avoid, potentially significant impacts to the City and surrounding County areas.” CEA Foundation Legal Analysis Finds Rise Claims Meritless A fundamental misunderstanding of the legislative nature of the Planning Commission’s action renders virtually all of Rise’s many complaints irrelevant. - It’s a legislative process, not a court case. Rise’s letter assumes that the Planning Commission was required to act in a “quasi-adjudicatory” (court-like) capacity. But that assumption is wrong. Because the project requires a decision on rezoning, well established law holds that such decisions are categorically “legislative”. Rise’s letter wastes many pages arguing that the Planning Commission violated requirements that do not apply. - Laws were not violated. Even if one assumed that the “adjudicatory” standards did apply, the Commission satisfied the requirements. Courts have long recognized that local decisionmakers have not only a right, but an obligation, to discuss issues of vital concern with their constituents and to state their views on matters of public importance. Furthermore, association with members of community groups opposed to a project, or even membership in such groups, does not establish bias. Nor does having a point of view about a question of law or policy act as a disqualification by itself. - It’s a recommendation, not a decision. The Planning Commission was merely issuing a recommendation. Nothing in Rise’s complaint letter threatens the validity of the Board’s own upcoming decision on the project. - Democracy at work - The processing of the Rise application, the active engagement of the public, and the conduct of the Planning Commission were a good example of how democracy is supposed to work. We encourage the Board of Supervisors to continue with the normal processing of this project and not be intimidated by threats or accusations of foul play. For the good of the community, we urge them to Just Say No! Compromises Won’t Fix the Project The unavoidable reality is that this project can’t be fixed. Last-minute compromise offers won’t solve problems that are deeply embedded in the Mine’s flawed FEIR and project plans: - Incompatible use. Rezoning the Brunswick site to allow this mining project next to residential neighborhoods violates the General Plan and would be an incompatible land use. - The mine threatens hundreds of private residential wells used for drinking water. The FEIR does not address the high degree of uncertainty in predicting the impact to wells in our local fractured bedrock system and it completely dismisses the complexity and expense of providing homeowners with a “comparable water supply” if wells fail. - There is no viable solution for disposing of mine waste. After the first several years, the project depends upon being able to dispose of 1000 tons per day of the mine waste by off-site sales as fill materials or construction aggregate. But they’ve failed to determine it would be clean enough to sell (or even be permitted to dump anywhere) – and there is no market for "Restricted" mine waste in a flooded aggregates market. - Mine operations come with a huge cost in greenhouse gas emissions and energy use. The mine will emit over 9000 metric tons of GHG/yr and use electricity equivalent to 5,575 homes/yr. But the state’s goal for GHG emissions is net zero and the energy use is so sizable it would negate key County goals in its Energy Action Plan to improve climate resiliency. Read more: The County should deny the Idaho-Maryland Mine and should not certify the Final EIR | minewatchnc.org
- How the $100 million proposed reopening of a former gold mine has angered Grass Valley
"Sixty-eight years have passed since the Idaho-Maryland Mine operated in this small city in the Sierra Nevada foothills, about 50 miles east of Sacramento. Grass Valley residents want to keep it idle, a relic of the past" Excerpts from a The Sacramento Bee article by Randy Diamond Jun 10, 2023 Ben Mossman believes one of the largest amounts of unmined gold in the world lies deep under the ground in Grass Valley and wants to extract it. And that has made him, and his Rise Gold Corp., public enemy No. 1 in this town. Opponents crowded two days of hearing with the Nevada County Planning Commission last month, overflowing outside listening to testimony near a tent, with a "no mine" banner, that had audio piped in. Residents cite concerns that the 2,585-acre mine site would create failed wells, groundwater contamination, noise pollution and air pollution and increased truck traffic. Mossman said he and environmental studies have rebutted all those fears. He promises a mine that won’t damage the environment and will create an economic boom. The planning staff had reviewed a more than 800-page environmental impact report [correction, the report was 12,000 pages] paid for by Rise Gold but done by an independent consultant. But the planning staff found that reopening the gold mine was not consistent with the county’s overall general plan to maintain the rural characteristics of Nevada County. Read the rest of the article at The Sacramento Bee.
- Barbara Larsen: Rise folks out of touch
This local resident was puzzled by the constant flow of Cadillac Black SUVs circling the parking lot at the County's public hearing for the mine on May 11. Apparently, Rise Gold's Ben Mossman thought this would either impress or intimidate our community. So out of touch with our down to earth and environmental friendly community. Read Barbara's full letter to the editor in The Union.
- Mike Pasner: Water problem
This local farmer notes that when the mine fails in their testing, poisoned water will go through canals and reservoirs. There are many other local ranches and farms relying on this water. This letter to the editor was originally published in The Union. Are there many problems with Rise Gold's proposed reopening of the Idaho Maryland Mine? Yes there are! My main concern as a Nevada County farmer is the pumping of millions of gallons of water out of the mine for the next 80 years. Rise Gold will be responsible for testing the purity of the water they pump. When the mine fails in their testing, this poisoned water will go through (NID's) Nevada Irrigation Districts canals and reservoirs. This is the water I have farmed with for 37 years. There are many other local ranches and farms relying on this water. Who will be held liable? The Canadian mining company, NID, Nevada County, me the farmer or you the rancher? We don't need this problem and it should not be allowed to happen. The county should deny the Idaho-Maryland Mine project and should not certify this flawed Final Environmental Impact Report. Mike Pasner Indian Springs Organic Farm
- CEA Foundation: If certified, the Mine EIR will haunt us
Why did County staff recommending denial of the mine project but approval of the EIR? Only denying the Mine and the EIR will defeat it for good. This opinion piece was originally published in The Union. Community Environmental Advocates Foundation Board: If certified, the Mine EIR will haunt us; Only denying the Mine and the EIR will defeat it for good. May 10, 2023 The Nevada County Planning Department has, for good reason, recommended that the County Planning Commission vote to deny the Idaho Maryland Mine zone change and variance. That may sound a lot like a “No”, but the devil’s in the details. Staff continues to recommend certification of the Final Environmental Impact Report (EIR). Certifying the EIR would be tantamount to leaving an opening to the future approval of a mine at this site. Only denying the Mine and the EIR will defeat it for good. If there is no mine there is absolutely no need for an EIR The county is under no obligation to certify the EIR if the project is denied. Case law is clear on this topic e.g., Las Lomas Land Co., LLC vs City of Los Angeles (2009) Cal.App.4th 83. Why the EIR must not be certified The EIR is totally deficient. It fails to disclose and evaluate the Mine’s significant negative environmental effects, it does not analyze a reasonable range of alternatives to the Mine, and it fails to identify adequate mitigation measures. Here are a few examples: The EIR relies on groundwater data that is over 15 years old as the baseline for determining whether the Mine will have significant impacts on water quality and water supply. It fails to mitigate the Mine’s air quality impacts, even though the EIR acknowledges they will be significant; and similarly, it dismisses significant greenhouse gas emissions and their contribution to climate change. Even if the project is denied, the certified EIR could be relied on in the future to support the approval of yet another mining proposal at this site. Rise Gold, or even a new applicant, could come back in the years ahead with a new mine proposal. However, if the EIR is certified, a new application could use the County’s officially sanctioned EIR to satisfy environmental review requirements, perhaps with minor additions. This would constrain the County’s discretion and leave it vulnerable to a claim that it is required to approve a proposal without the analysis and mitigation necessary to address the significant impacts of a future mining project. If the EIR is certified, the community will be forced to watchdog the county for years to come, waiting for a new mine proposal and the need to fight this battle again. The solution is simple, and the County needs to make it clear: Only denying both the EIR and the Mine will put this project and future ones like it to rest once and for all.
- Margaret Burks: Pause and imagine the mine in full operation
This local resident reflects that "Mitigation is the trade-off: we'll do 'this' good thing to offset 'that' bad thing." "The bad thing doesn't go away. Mitigation is a pipe-dream on paper: rarely 100% effective or even doable, expensive, not guaranteed, rarely inspected, rarely enforced." She concludes that the risks are unacceptable. Read her full May 9, 2023 opinion piece in The Union.
- Mack Shaver: Vote against reopening the Idaho Maryland Mine
Local resident and former National Park Service Superintendent watched the boom and bust of the oil shale economy in North Dakota. The euphoria of increased jobs, home values, and hotel construction soon fades to fear for community culture, the increase in crime, the drop in housing values, and the diminishment of the once promised economy. He asks Nevada County to spare our vibrant county culture, environment, and its stead economy. Read his full May 6, 2023 opinion piece in The Union.
- Charles Brock: County Policy - existing development shall be protected...
Nevada County's General Plans says that already existing development shall be protected from adverse environmental effects caused by mining. So why did it's planning department staff recommend certifying the environmental impact report? This opinion piece was first published in The Union. May 9. 2023 I’m having considerable heartburn over our Planning Department’s Staff recommendation that the Planning Commission vote to certify the Final Environmental Impact Report (FEIR) for the Idaho Maryland Mine (IMM). General Plan Policy 17.14 states “Already existing development – commercial, residential and community, shall be protected from adverse environmental effects caused by mining through enforced use permit conditions and mitigation measures, OR DENIAL OF THE PROJECTS.” The FEIR identifies three SIGNIFICANT ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACTS that CANNOT BE MITIGATED: Aesthetics, Noise, and Traffic/Circulation. Asbestos should have been a fourth. Accurate measurement of asbestos contained in the tons per day of mine waste rock, cannot be determined until TWO WEEKS AFTER the rock has been trucked away. The FEIR also fails in its arbitrary and inadequate attempt to mitigate admitted threats to water wells, using sparse data collected over 15 years ago! This is a clear violation of California’s Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) which requires “current data be used to assess impacts and mitigations.” To deny certification of the FEIR requires identifying its inadequacies. I have spent countless hours reviewing all planning documents from DEIR and FEIR to Use Permit Applications documents, Variance Applications, Technical Reports, Management Plans, etc. and often found these documents incomplete, frequently incorrect, self-contradictory, and basically nowhere near worthy of certification or approval by our County decision-makers. To build the main mining operation on the Brunswick industrial site, Rise Gold needs to rerecord the County Final Map of that site and erase a 1500’ long fault line that is shown running directly through the middle of their building site. In an “abundance of caution”, after admitting potential “SIGNIFICANT IMPACT” of removing the fault line, the FEIR concludes that “the fault line and its 200’ setbacks, can be removed from the Final Map if the mine’s building plans are reviewed and approved by the County Building Department”. Justification for this decision is that the mine is located in the Foothill Fault System which is reported to have “low seismicity…and low rate of recurrence”, with the nearest recent(1975) “activity” having occurred 25 miles to the north on the Cleveland Hill Fault, which is also part of the Foothill Fault System. The mine’s DEIR, FEIR, Geotechnical Engineering Report, and Management Plan for Potential Seismic Hazards all fail to note that a portion of the Cleveland Hill Fault is now designated within a high risk potential Alquist-Priolo ACTIVE FAULT ZONE! Each of these critical project documents also fail to mention an August 1978 article in California Geology which notes “Damaging earthquakes occurred in 1909 and 1888 15 km northeast of Nevada City.” To build on the Brunswick Industrial Site, Rise Gold needs a Variance to work within the County’s 100’ riparian setback, and permission to exceed 30% slope standards within these same areas. The FEIR informs us that “temporary and permanent ground-disturbing activities of jurisdictional waters/wetlands cannot be avoided”. Mitigation is achieved by payment of “an in-lieu fee or off-site wetland creation… or purchase of habitat credits”. Let me get this straight, “modern/clean” mining decimates the Wolf Creek watershed and mitigates this waste by paying into a fund to restore habitat or wetlands somewhere else? Read the mine engineer’s 1/2/20 Steep Slope and Sediment Control Management Plan (outdated) to learn that “due to the proposed development and existing site topography, there is no alternative feasible location on the subject property that would have less impact on the Site and surrounding area, and “no feasible alternatives were identified…that could avoid these environmentally sensitive resource areas”. The FEIR states “no groundwater level measurements have been completed since 2007, which creates some uncertainty to the predicted impact…of the water column in domestic wells”.(pg.147) Just the suggestion of millions of gallons of subsurface water being pumped out of the ground has already had an impact on the desirability and demand for real estate in Western Nevada County! The FEIR also makes the outrageous statement that “water quality impacts to domestic wells are speculative impacts that do not require analysis under the California Environmental Quality Act”.(pg.151) If local Realtors were required to include an accurate disclosure of IMM’s FEIR there’s no doubt that housing values throughout Western Nevada County would plummet! A certified Final Environmental Impact Report leaves us with the specter of potential future development of the Idaho Maryland Mine. Rise Gold’s FEIR must not be certified! Rise Gold’s Use Permit must not be approved! The examples I’ve quoted above just begin to scratch the surface of the incorrect, inconsistent, self-contradictory, and misrepresented information contained throughout Rise Gold’s EIR’s and Permit application documents! Write your Supervisor! Attend the Planning Commission hearings this Wednesday, May 10th (and 11th if necessary), at the Rood Center, Nevada City. Carpool. Ride the bus. Go to minewatchnc.org for more information. Charles Brock, Realtor Emeritus, Past President Nevada County Board of Realtors
- Earthshaking News: Planning Commission Rejects Mine
We won a pivotal victory! All five Planning Commissioners voted unanimously against the Idaho-Maryland Mine at the end of Nevada County's public hearing May 10 and 11! They JUST SAID NO to the project and NO to the Environmental Impact Report (EIR)! Together we experienced two days of drama, culminating in not only a vote by the commissioners – but an earthquake too! It seems Mother Nature herself felt compelled to vote against the mine – only 20 minutes after Commissioner McAteer asked why the EIR erased a fault line from the final project map! Next Step: Board of Supervisors - estimated early fall 2023 Planning Commission Recommends NO to Gold Mine | Community Opponents Celebrate | YubaNet Planning Commission No the Idaho-Maryland Mine | The Union Both days were live streamed. Watch the videos. May 10 | May 11 Phenomenal Show of Community Opposition Perhaps the most impressive part of this story and that day is this community. Let’s face it – it really is like no other. Our collective experience and deep expertise are why we are effective. Thank YOU… Because YOU are why WE are winning! Our presence at the meeting was a sight to behold: Nearly 1,000 people attended the event, with over 900 “No Mine” attendance stickers handed out on the first day alone! 500 postcards signed in 7 hours 380 people grabbed tickets to speak 139 people commented across two days, 112 were opposed Dozens of students attended from local schools (with permission from their schools) 9 hours of public comment 4 TV crews 4 food trucks And one GREAT group photo! Our numbers leading up to the meeting were just as impressive. We delivered: A group letter from the 26 MineWatch Coalition organizations detailing the flaws in the Final Environmental Impact Report. Over 5,500 petition signatures and proof that over 250 businesses signed on in opposition (including 100 realtors). Huge stacks of paper containing some 1200 letters plus 600 “Just Say No” postcards submitted in the last 4 months alone. A huge photomosaic banner made up of hundreds of faces of activists and community members holding “No Mine” signs. 202 no-mine opinion editorials in the Union Over 1,000 petition signatures gathered by SYRCL (South Yuba River Citizen's League) at their recent Wild and Scenic Film Festival Over 200 signatures on a group letter from the Wells Coalition - a group of directly-impacted well owners within roughly 1/2 mile of the mine's mineral rights area More News 6.8.23 Grass Valley residents oppose plan to reopen old gold mine | The Sacramento Bee (sacbee.com) 5.26.23 Ideas & Opinions — John Brady: Urge the Supervisors to slam this project into the trash bin of history | Community | theunion.com 5.20.23 Ideas & Opinions — Martha Turner: Kudos to the Planning Commission! Kudos to the people! | Community | theunion.com 5.15.23 Rise Gold Sees Commission Deny Idaho-Maryland Mine Project In California | the deep dive 5.13.23 Planning commission rejects project to open up old gold mine in Nevada County (kcra.com) 5.12.23 Planning commission: No to the Idaho-Maryland mine | News | theunion.com 5.12.23 Nevada County Planning Commission unanimously recommends denying the Idaho Maryland Mine – Rise Grass Valley Project - YubaNet 5.12.23 Rise Gold Reports Planning Commission Recommendation on Idaho-Maryland Mine Project (yahoo.com) 5.10 CBS "It's a bad idea": Plans to reopen Nevada County gold mine sparks controversy - CBS Sacramento (cbsnews.com) 5.10.23 Fox News: Debate in Nevada County as company seeks to reopen mine - 5.10 Union: County chambers overflow with voices for and against the mine project (PHOTO GALLERY) | News | theunion.com 5.10 Union Video: Mine Meeting: Nevada County Planning Commission holds hearing on the Idaho-Maryland Mine (Video) | News | theunion.com 5.10 KCRA: Proposed Grass Valley mine reopening drew hundreds to public hearing (kcra.com) 5.10 ABC 10: Nevada County Planning Commission holding public meeting on proposed gold mine | abc10.com 5.10 YubaNet: Planning Commission meeting goes into Day 2 - YubaNet 5.9 KCRA: Grass Valley could soon reopen its Idaho-Maryland Mine. Here’s why some want to stop it (kcra.com) 5.9 Judgement day: Nevada County Planning Commission to make recommendations on Idaho-Maryland Mine | News | theunion.com
- Press Release: Planning commission recommends No to Foothills Gold Mine
For Immediate Release: May 13, 2023 Contacts: Traci Sheehan Community Environmental Advocates Foundation firstname.lastname@example.org PRESS RELEASE County Planning Commission recommends NO to Foothills Gold Mine Community Opponents Celebrate Nevada City, CA - The Nevada County Planning Commission, before an overflow crowd, unanimously denied recommending approval to the Board of Supervisors of the reopening of the Idaho-Maryland Mine and opted not to recommend certification of the Final Environmental Impact Report (FEIR). The final decision will be made by the Board of Supervisors later this Summer. The decision came after two days of hearings, with over 900 people in attendance. Over 350 people signed up to speak to the Commission. The crowd flowed into the outdoor area surrounding the County Administration Center, where the hearing could be followed by outdoor speakers provided by the county. Food trucks provided lunch, and music lightened the tension. Those attending were overwhelmingly opposed to the mine, many holding what has become a common sight around the county - bright yellow “No Mine” signs. The Commission’s decision was met with applause and cheers. Ralph Silberstein, president of Community Environmental Advocates Foundation, the group that coordinated the MineWatch campaign, was relieved: “On behalf of CEA Foundation, I want to thank the Planning Commission for their diligence and patience in addressing this complex and controversial project. But even more, I want to thank the MineWatch team, our coalition partners, thousands of our supporters, and the community at large for their dedication and efforts leading up to the hearings. We can make a difference! We will move on to the Board of Supervisors vote, hoping that they will take the advice of their Commission and the overwhelming majority of their constituents.” The MineWatch campaign includes 26 state, regional, and local organizations that are concerned about the environmental and economic impacts of the mine reopening. Speakers at the Planning Commission meeting summarized the large-scale public participation during the three years of project review by presenting to the Commission petitions with 5,500 plus signatures, over 1000 letters and postcards, a notebook filled with guest editorials, and unveiled a photo collage of hundreds of No Mine activists. During public comments, opponents outlined concerns over the environmental impacts of the mine which would operate for up to 80 years, producing 1,000 tons of mine waste rock per day with unknown asbestos content, pumping thousands of gallons daily from limited groundwater supplies affecting over 300 residential wells, generating 100 truck trips a day on local roads, and releasing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions the equivalent of that from the energy use of 5,575 homes. Christy Hubbard with the Wells Coalition responded to the vote: “Wells owners are deeply grateful to the Commissioners, including our District 3 Commissioner Terry McAteer, for listening so closely to our concerns. We also want to thank NID for setting the record straight on the enormous complexities involved in providing assurances to so many homes. Without water, our properties are worthless. Well owners were weeping tears of joy after the decision.” During the hearing, residents spanning ages and livelihoods made it clear that Grass Valley is no longer a gold-mining town. High school student Josh Thiem, a Ghidotti High School Student and leader in the Sunrise Movement, led a group of students who (with permission) left school to participate in the hearing. In his comments before the Commission, he said: “Think not for you, but for me and all the generations after me. It matters not for the people in this room but for all the people after us.” After the hearing, he concluded: “I strongly believe that the County will vote against the FEIR. It sends a message to us that we can take action and be heard.” Former County Supervisor Peter Van Zant and a leader of the environmental community’s participation in the 1995 General Plan Update, commented on General Plan issues: “I’m grateful that the Planning Staff recommended denial of the mine based on its being inconsistent with the General Plan’s requirement that projects maintain the County’s ‘rural character and quality of life.” Don Rivenes, speaking for CEA Foundation/MineWatch, and a leader in Nevada County Action Now, noted: “…. The mine’s 9,000 tons/year of emissions should be considered significant and unmitigated. The EIR should have established a net zero threshold for GHG emissions from the proposed project.” Lauren Tackbarry represented the Sierra Club, Sierra Nevada Group: “…Simply put, this community deserves better, and we refuse to go back in time to reopen a mine that would cause irreversible damage to the foothills.” Deni Silberstein echoed a concern heard throughout the hearing - the hazardous waste potential of mine waste (tailings) which would be produced by the mine: “… the mine waste has not been classified as Group C by the Water Board. Yet, only Group C mine waste is safe enough to be sold - or stored - without restrictions. So it is not even known whether the waste can be dumped at the Brunswick and Centennial sites, let alone whether or not it can be sold off-site.” Many area realtors joined in urging the Commissioners to consider impacts on property values and the local economy. The Nevada County Association of Realtors (NCAR) presented results from a recent survey of realtors. The poll included 162 survey answers, with 87% of survey participants believing that property values will be negatively impacted. In addition, realtors cautioned about the devaluation of residents’ properties and the impact on property taxes, estimating that the loss to the County could be significant. Residents echoed their sentiments, explaining that they were already having trouble selling their homes. One realtor presented a letter signed by 150 businesses and 100 realtors opposed to the project. Proponents of the mine touted job creation. Opponents disagreed. George Olive, Board President of the South Yuba River Citizens League (SYRCL), reminded us to prioritize projects that are constructive, progressive, and future-oriented. Restoration projects that are forward-looking "make life better," provide sustainable jobs and bring in millions of dollars to our region. "We hope to work together with the union members who testified to continue to add jobs in the growing restoration economy. SYRCL's restoration work last year supported nearly 70 skilled equipment operator positions," said Aaron Zettler-Mann, Interim Executive Director and Science Director. “CEA Foundation supports good jobs in the county and sympathizes with those hoping for mine jobs, but not jobs at the expense of our health and safety, and having adverse effects upon other thriving elements of the economy that are more sustainable,” added Ralph Silberstein. The Final EIR Throughout the two days, opponents continuously brought up the concern that even if the mine were denied, a county-certified EIR could be relied on by any future mine proposal on this site. Jillian Blanchard, a CEA Foundation supporter and a land use attorney, advised the Commission during the hearing: “The next applicant will claim that the County is bound by this FEIR’s analysis and mitigation. And you, Commissioners, will have your hands tied by a legally deficient document.” The South Yuba River Citizens League (SYRCL) drew attention to a number of failings in the final EIR. “Inadequate sampling, poor computer modeling, and baseless assumptions about aggregate sales and the failure to address the related water quality concerns mean the final EIR is inadequate. There is no market for their mine waste, the restoration economy is here and growing, and the environmental impacts of the project will be significant,” said Zettler-Mann. “SYRCL applauds the County Planning Commission for its final recommendation and looks forward to continuing to build a more resilient future for Nevada County residents absent destructive gold mines.” Gary Pierazzi, one of the last speakers at the end of day 2, reminded the Commission: “With the three proposals to reopen this mine over the last 30 years, I and many in the community have spent 20 of those years fighting to protect our wells from the mine. We don’t want to have to re-live this constant burden. This FEIR does not protect us, and certifying it would have come back to bite us.” Commissioners unanimous Commissioner Terence McAteer questioned consultants on many inadequacies of the report. Among them was the erasure of an earthquake fault line that ran directly under the mine workings. McAteer’s concern was confirmed when an actual earthquake occurred just 20 minutes later. Alarms sounded, the floor shook, and the Commission chose to continue with the hearing. In the end, the Commissioners were unanimous, voting 5-0 to recommend to the Nevada County Supervisors to not certify the FEIR and deny the mine project. In his closing statement before the vote, Commissioner McAteer told the packed house about the work of Judge Lorenzo Sawyer. Sawyer, a former miner who worked in Nevada City, became a lawyer and then eventually a judge. Fueled by his experience of mining’s destructive impacts, he wrote the 1884 Sawyer decision that states the environmental effects of mining “must not be foisted on neighboring property or community.” McAteer stated: “Today we are faced with a similar situation which has the potential to infect our air with asbestos and exhaust fumes, impact the wells of our neighbors, discharge harmful elements into the water, destroy many acres of wetlands, add significant amounts of greenhouse gases into our environment, and return to our legacy of mining.” The community has a rich history of mining with a “hotel called the Miner’s Inn, the high school’s mascot is the Miners, and…there’s a miner in the County logo,” stated Commissioner Mike Mastrodonato. “But things change.” The Nevada County Supervisors will consider the Commission’s recommendation no earlier than August 2023. More on the next steps can be found on the County’s website and this Nevada County News Flash The 2-day hearing is available on the Nevada County YouTube site. Nevada County Planning Commission Special Meeting May 10, 2023 - YouTube and Nevada County Planning Commission Special Meeting May 11, 2023 - YouTube For more information about the potential re-opening of the Idaho-Maryland Mine visit: www.MineWatchNC.org *** The mission of the Community Environmental Advocates Foundation (CEA Foundation) is to perform research, education, and advocacy to promote public policy and actions resulting in responsible land use and environmental protection in Nevada County and the Sierra Nevada region. www.cea-nc.org/. MineWatch campaign, a grassroots effort to oppose the mine. www.MineWatchNC.org
- The County should deny the Idaho-Maryland Mine and should not certify the Final EIR
The County's Final Environmental and Economic Impact Reports have been published. On May 11, 2023, the Planning Commission voted unanimously to recommend denial of the project and the environmental impact report. The final decision will be made by the Board of Supervisors on October 2 & 3, 2023. CEA Foundation and MineWatch Coalition technical and legal experts prepared a series of strategic arguments that were delivered to the County. Read below to learn why the County has no obligation to the approve the mine. Get smart about the top six reasons why the project should be denied and the environmental report should NOT be certified. The County has no obligation to approve the Mine. The many environmental impacts associated with the mine, as well as its inconsistency with Grass Valley’s and the County’s land use plans provide ample justification for denying the mine project. The Final EIR (FEIR) also has serious deficiencies and should not be certified. It fails to substantiate several claims that impacts would not be “significant” and does not comply with CEQA (California Environmental Quality Act). ● Environmental impacts unavoidable - The FEIR lists several significant and unavoidable environmental impacts that endanger this community's health and quality of life. These include aesthetics, traffic, and noise. There are also serious deficiencies in the FEIR that put the County and its citizens at even greater risk. Key deficiencies are shown in sections 2-6 below. ● Inconsistent with General Plan - The Mine project is inconsistent with numerous Nevada County General Plan goals and policies. The Plan’s goal 17.1 calls for recognizing and protecting mineral resources in a manner that does not create land use conflicts. And yet, multiple conflicts exist with goals for not only land use, but also economic development, safety, climate change, noise, aesthetics, water, and coordination with cities and towns. A specific list of conflicts can be found here. ● Legal considerations - The County can confidently proceed with denial knowing the decision does not qualify as “taking”, which is a legal term that describes a project rejection that denies an owner their right to develop a property. Both the Brunswick and Centennial properties are currently zoned“ Light Industrial”, which provide a reasonable use of the properties. The applicant would need to secure approval of rezoning the Brunswick site to M1-M1 (Light Industrial with Mineral Extraction) in order to proceed with the project. There is ample case law to uphold the rejection of FEIR certification if a project is denied. If the current FEIR were to be certified, then the project later denied, it will be a flawed EIR in County records that could be used in future applications. Read more legal considerations here. ● Inadequate economic justification - The Economic Impact Report on the Mine showed a huge range of possible revenue outcomes from very low to very high, making actual revenue potential uncertain. Only the lower estimates were backed by proven gold reserves. Expert community reviewers found that even low-end figures were overly optimistic with a heavy reliance on information provided by the applicant. The assertion that property values wouldn’t decline was a big miss. It failed to recognize local realtor expertise or use acceptable home appraisal methods. Additional downside risk was not evaluated. Learn more about the community review here. ● Just say no! - Continuing with the EIR and project consideration will just cost the County in loss of time and energy as well as that of staff and the community. This community is overwhelmingly opposed to the Mine project, as evidenced by the over 5,500 petition signatures submitted to the County last summer and the fact that 95% of the opinion pieces published in The Union about the mine are against it. More information about opposition can be found here. Following are six key deficiencies of the FEIR. 1 Well Owners Shafted in the Final EIR The FEIR’s conclusion that groundwater impacts from the mine project will not be significant was not substantiated. Serious deficiencies identified by expert reviewers of the Draft EIR were not addressed, resulting in a final report that does not comply with CEQA and fails to identify the potential impacts. ● CEQA requires a current baseline to assess potential impacts and determine mitigations. The computer model used for the analysis did not use current monitoring data from any of the over 300 domestic wells in the mineral rights area. It relied only on sparse patches of data from over 15 years ago. The Final EIR acknowledges that data is needed, but the approach calls for drilling 15new monitoring wells as a basis for verifying the computer model after the EIR is certified! The questionable computer model estimates well waterdrops at 1 to 10 feet for 152 wells, then avoids declaring the impact as “significant” by creating an arbitrary threshold of significance at 10%. ● The final EIR also adds a completely inadequate supplemental domestic monitoring plan for 378 newly-identified properties. Among the many deficiencies, the new program only includes about half the wells in the mineral rights vicinity and provides neither additional NID infrastructure to speed water replacement nor a third-party liaison to negotiate issues if problems arise. Read public comments from the Wells Coalition, CEA Foundation, and San Juan Ridge Taxpayers Association here. 2 Mine Waste Management Inadequacies Risk Water Quality The FEIR’s conclusion that water quality impacts related to mine waste will not be significant is unsupported. The Water Board made it clear in Draft EIR comments that more rock testing is needed to assess the likely concentration levels of hazardous elements in the rock to be mined. The FEIR’s plan for storing and disposing of mine waste has extensive gaps, creating a risk for long-term mine water pollution similar to what this community has seen in the past. ● Rise Gold’s project plans to deposit 1000 tons of tailings and waste rock per day on the Centennial and Brunswick sites for the first11 years. After that, the plan is to dispose of it via off-site sales. However, only waste classified as Group C can be used for engineered fill deposits or off-site sales. The more hazardous Groups A and B require special handling. The FEIR asserts that “mine materials will likely be classified as Group C”, but its conclusions rely on just 11 feet of drill core samples. ● The FEIR does not provide adequate provisions for the storage of Group A or Group B mine waste, which will be required by the Water Board. Since any waste that is not Group C cannot be used for engineered fill or off-site sales, viable alternative strategies must be defined. The FEIR introduced a new suggestion that if not Group C “...the waste rock would be placed underground”, but CEQA requires storage of Group A or B mine waste underground to be reviewed in a Draft EIR. ● This extensive set of gaps in mine waste management also introduces uncertainties about Rise Gold’s ability to operate by disposing of mine waste from off-site sales. Read public comments from CEA Foundation here. 3 Mine Waste Management Inadequacies Put Air Quality at Risk The FEIR’s conclusion that air quality impacts related to mine waste will be effectively mitigated is unsupported. Asbestos is found in all rock types in the Idaho-Maryland Mine in varying concentrations. The FEIR’s plan for managing concentration levels to ensure that mine waste meets safety requirements before being shipped out of the facility is inadequate. ● Management of asbestos emissions is a complicated task. If the rolling average over a 3-month period of asbestos concentration in mine waste exceeds 0.01% by weight, it cannot be shipped out of the mine facility. Rise Gold’s primary approach – as described in the Asbestos, Serpentinite, and Ultramafic Rock (ASUR) management plan – simply proposes that cores would be sampled before excavation and that if asbestos levels are too high, the rock won’t be mined. There is not enough evidence, however, to establish that they can feasibly stay below the limits using this plan. ● The test data in the FEIR for determining the potential impacts from Asbestos is inadequate for CEQA compliance. Of the testing that was provided, which came from just 3 drill cores, 40% of the samples exceeded the 0.01% threshold. Thus, for assessing the impacts of asbestos air pollution, spot sampling has been done on less than 1/1000th of the mine rock that will be excavated over the 80 year life of the Use Permit. Read public comments from CEA Foundation here. 4 FEIR Fails to Assess Impacts of Centennial Site The FEIR excludes the Centennial Site from the full analysis of the impacts of the mine project. This prevents the County from understanding the full environmental impacts and is a clear violation of CEQA, which requires that impact assessments be based on current conditions, not a speculative future condition. ● The 56-acre Centennial site is the location of hazardous waste left over from past Idaho-Maryland Mine operations. The California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) is managing the cleanup, but their Remedial Action Plan (RAP) is only in draft form. It is unclear when the plan will be finalized or when DTSC might approve the clean up. ● Per CEQA, the EIR must provide an environmental assessment of the current conditions of a project site to establish a baseline in order to determine impacts. This was not done. The FEIR assumes the site will be cleaned up before it gets used to deposit new mine waste. The plan calls for placing 1.6 million tons of mine waste (assuming it qualifies as Group C) over the course of 5 years, covering about 44 acres to a height of up to 55 feet. And yet, the significant work needed to accomplish this clean-up is not disclosed or evaluated in the FEIR. Numerous aspects of this RAP draft have been questioned in public comments and the final project details are unknown. Read public comments from CEA Foundation here. 5 Greenhouse Gas Emission Impacts dismissed in FEIR. The FEIR concludes that the mine’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emission impacts will be “less than significant”, but it uses an unsupportable, obsolete threshold measure to justify its position. The only correct threshold – given current climate studies, CA SB-32, and today’s state goals – is net zero. The County has not formally adopted its own threshold of significance, but it has set ambitious goals to reduce GHG through energy reduction in its Energy Action Plan. The Mine’s sizable energy footprint would be a serious setback. ● The FEIR sets the significance impact threshold of 10,000 Metric Tons (MT) of GHG emissions per year. Mine operations are projected to produce approximately 9,000 MT per year, which is just under the set limit. This does not, however, include the over 4000 MT of additional emissions that will be generated by cement manufacturers to provide the massive amount of cement that will be used to produce cemented paste backfill for 500 tons/day of mine tailings. ● The outdated 10,000 MT/year threshold is one that was used by other air districts such as the Bay Area in the past. More recent projects, however, such as the Sargent Ranch Quarry project managed by the Bay Area Air Quality Management District in 2022, use net zero for the significance threshold. ● The mine’s electricity usage is approximately equivalent to the annual use of 5000 homes. The Mine’s energy use would be so sizable that it would completely offset the amount of residential reductions the County wants to achieve each year in its Energy Action Plan. Read public comments from CEA Foundation here. 6 No Viable Plan for Disposing of Mine Waste. The FEIR does not provide adequate information regarding the viability of the plan to dispose of mine waste through off-site sales and does not have provisions for adequate on-site temporary storage or permanent disposal of mine waste, leading to potentially significant impacts. The project documents call for approximately 11 years of operations in which the mine waste will be disposed of on the Centennial and Brunswick sites as “Engineered Fill,” but the FEIR fails to resolve uncertainties affecting the viability of that plan. Due to inadequate testing information in the FEIR, the mine waste could not be classified as Group C mine waste by the Regional Water Quality Control Board as needed to allow dumping onto these two sites. In addition, due to inadequate testing of mine drill cores for asbestos to establish a reasonable assessment of the potential hazards due to airborne asbestos, numerous management issues regarding the safe handling and placement of asbestos-bearing rock as “Restricted Materials” remain unresolved. Worse still, for the remaining 65 or more years of operations, even if the issues of potential water and asbestos impacts are resolved, significant issues remain as to how and where the mine waste will be disposed. Read public comments from CEA Foundation here. PRINT or share this information with others using these PDFs.
- JUST SAY NO - Public Hearing May 10 (&11) - All hands on deck
Get ready for a big show of opposition at Nevada County Planning Commission's PUBLIC HEARING on the Idaho-Maryland Mine. If you attend one meeting this year, let this be the one. This is our last chance to tell Commissioners to Just Say No to the project... AND the seriously flawed Environmental Impact Report! Only denying the mine AND not certifying the EIR will defeat it for good! May 10 is the most critical day. We'll be taking a group picture during the lunch break. Wednesday, May 10, 2023 | 9:00am – 5:00pm "Overflow day": Thursday, May 11, 2023 | 9:00 – 5:00pm 950 Maidu Ave, Nevada City, CA 95959, USA Here’s a rough idea of how the schedule will go. 8:30 am – This is the earliest you can pick up a comment number if you want to speak, but you can pick up a number any time in the day. 9:00 am– Some of the morning will be taken with presentations & commissioner questions. Public comment will begin after that. Lunch break – The exact time will be decided by the Commission chairperson. Join us for an update, music, and a giant group photo. Food trucks will be available from 11am to 2pm. Afternoon to 5:00 pm / possibly continuing to May 11 – Continue public comment. Once all speakers have been heard, the commissioners will discuss and take a final vote. Know before you go: Allow EXTRA time for parking. We expect overflow conditions in the Rood Center parking lot. If you can, take the bus or carpool with others. See details below. If you would like to make a 3 minute spoken comment, show up early and get a number (that number is your assigned spot). It will also be possible to get a number in the afternoon. We recommend you practice your speech in advance to make sure it fits within 3 minutes. The County's microphone will turn off automatically when your time is up. Pack a lunch and bring a water bottle. The Rood Center Café is currently closed. Cousin's Maine Lobster, Thai Chic Street Food, and Sweeney's Weenies food trucks will be available on May 10th from 11 am - 2 pm to provide food and drinks. There will be an ice cream available later in the day. Join us for lunch and a group photo on May 10 -- We will give everyone an update, have music, and capture the moment with giant group photo. In addition to the Board Chambers, there will be overflow rooms for folks to sit inside. Outdoor seating is also available. Our goal is to have everyone seen and heard by the Planning Commissioners. Read the County's public notice about the event to learn more about the rules of engagement. The County will be live streaming the meeting for those who can't attend in person. https://www.youtube.com/@CountyofNevadaCA/streams More things you can do to help make a HUGE impact: Invite family and friends to attend the meeting. Share social media posts about the meeting on Facebook, Instagram, or Nextdoor. Write a letter to County decision makers using our easy online tool. MineWatchNC.org/send-a-letter. Have questions? Email email@example.com Why take the bus? It's fast - check out the timetable hyperlinked below. 25 minutes from Tinsloy Center to Rood Center. It makes a bunch of convenient stops where you can park -- Grass Valley City Hall, Fowler Center, and Nevada City SPD to name a few. It runs on the hour- buses leave from Tinsloy Center It's free! You don't have to worry about how to buy a ticket or exact change. Just get on the bus! Route 1 | Nevada County, CA (nevadacountyca.gov)