Grass Valley, CA – MineWatch, a coalition of 25 organizations led by the Community Environmental Advocates Foundation, submitted its culminating letter to the Nevada County Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors today. The coalition formed in 2020 and includes local, state, and national organizations that oppose the re-opening of the Idaho-Maryland Mine located in Grass Valley, CA.
The long-shuttered Idaho-Maryland Mine, a mass of underground tunnels and mine waste tailings from the 1800s gold rush era, is proposed to be re-opened by Canadian-based Rise Gold Corp. A Final Environmental Impact Report (FEIR) was released in December 2022. In response, many hundreds of comments were submitted by citizens to the County expressing serious concerns about the risks of the mine and the inadequacy of the report. The County Planning Commission is set to consider the issue at a public hearing on May 10, 2023.
The coalition is calling for the Nevada County Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors to avoid prolonging the battle over the mine. Asking the County to deny approval of the mine and not certify the Final Environmental Impact Report (EIR), the letter states; “We believe that continuing to process the EIR will just cost the County staff and the community a loss of time and energy.”
They conclude that the “…reopening of the Idaho-Maryland Mine is not supported by a majority of Nevada County constituents. Nevada County is no longer a resource extraction county. We have shifted onto a new 21st century green economy. And our residents support this shift. Are a few jobs and uncertain tax revenue worth the risk?”
CEA Foundation President Ralph Silberstein commented on the letter saying: “MineWatch has worked on the mine project diligently over the last three years to produce an accurate and detailed analysis for the community and the County. Coalition members span a wide range of organizations and expertise, and our analysis has led us all to the same conclusions. We are very concerned that the Final EIR has completely failed to adequately assess and mitigate the impacts of the proposed mine, and we view it as a significant threat to our community.”
The letter specifically states: “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 underestimate numerous other significant and unavoidable environmental impacts which our organizations and the community have identified throughout this process.” The letter goes on to outline these concluded deficiencies in detail, including: inadequate analysis of potential impacts to groundwater and residential wells; inadequate testing and provision for storage and removal of hazardous mine waste rock; limited analysis of asbestos risk; lack of assurance that the Centennial waste disposal site can be used; and underestimation of the impact of greenhouse gas emissions.
“We are deeply concerned that, should the Idaho-Maryland Mine reopen, mining operations would pollute our waterways, dewater groundwater, dry up private wells already impacted by drought, and degrade wildlife habitat,” stated Aaron Zettler-Mann, Interim Executive Director of the South Yuba River Citizens League (SYRCL), a MineWatch Coalition member. “The Final EIR fails to adequately address environmental concerns raised during the EIR review period, only listing aesthetics, traffic, and noise as significant and unavoidable environmental impacts. Denying approval of the mine and not certifying the FEIR is the only way to protect our air, water, and quality of life.”
“Given the Nisenan’s devastating experience with the mining industry and the lasting environmental destruction that can be seen from space, the Nevada City Rancheria Nisenan Tribe and its supporting non-profit CHIRP, believe the mine (the ‘mul mul mul’) is not in the best interest of the land, the people and the animals of today,” stated Shelly Covert, spokesperson for the Nevada City Rancheria Nisenan Tribe, which is also part of the MineWatch Coalition. “As a community, we need only look to the vast evidence around us to see the environmental and humanitarian lessons left by the gold rush that should have been learned the first time around.”
The MineWatch coalition notes that the County is under no obligation to approve the project, noting that it is inconsistent with the Nevada County and Grass Valley General Plans; that there is no economic justification for the Mine; that there will be severe and unavoidable environmental impacts; and that the community overwhelmingly does not want the Mine to reopen.
The MineWatch coalition letter concludes: “Our community is clearly at risk from the reopening of the Idaho Maryland Mine. It threatens to change the character of the community we love.”
The Nevada County Planning Commission is charged with making a recommendation to the Board of Supervisors. That recommendation is two-fold; first, to recommend whether the analysis in the FEIR is adequate and complete, and second, whether the Board of Supervisors should adopt the project. More information on the project can be found on the County project webpage.
Concerned citizens are encouraged to attend the County’s public hearing on May 10 to voice their opposition. A copy of the Coalition’s letter is available at www.minewatchnc.org/post/coalition-final-letter.
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 leader of MineWatch, a campaign that brings together a coalition of nonprofit organizations, residents, and businesses opposed to the mine. www.MineWatchNC.org