For those who could not attend the NDEP meeting last night, here is a quick summary.
It went about as we expected, with NDEP focusing on how they will keep the mine “safe” (but can you really keep a mine “safe” when it involves blowing a huge pit in the side of a mountain? It’s certainly not safe for the sagebrush, or the sage-grouse, or the pronghorn, or the meadowlarks, or anyone else who might live there).
NDEP claimed that the tailings that will be piled up at Thacker Pass won’t be very toxic. This is a joke. Metals mining is responsible for at least 50% of the most toxic pollution released into the environment every year.
DuPont’s presentation following NDEP’s was both boring and unprofessional.
NDEP confirmed that they don’t deny permits that meet the regulations in the law, and they work with companies to make sure that their permit applications meet the regulations. In other words, yup, they never deny permits.
We know of course that just because a mine proposal meets all the regulations, and is permitted by regulatory agencies, this in no way keeps the community safe. All mines require perpetual remediation to prevent or attempt to prevent toxins getting into the air, water, and soil. A lot of the time these remediations fail. But as long as the mining company met the regulation requirements they are usually not held responsible.
And even if they *are* held responsible, it’s too late. The mine is done. The pollution is happening or has happened. The water, soil, and air is contaminated forever on a human timeframe. The natural communities where the mine is located are decimated, never to return. Even if the mine is forced to pay communities for damages done (which almost never happens) that doesn’t bring back the water, air, and soil, and the living beings who lived there. That’s all gone forever. That means the communities in these contaminated sites are done. People stay there and get sick, or they are forced to leave.
Is it really worth the risk? We say no.
And perhaps most importantly: nowhere in the meeting was there an acknowledgement that Thacker Pass is sacred land, home to wild beings who have their own lives and their own needs; that this land provides medicine and food for those wild beings as well as traditional people; or that the corporation that wants to destroy this land and the regulatory agencies permitting this mine have no connection to this land.
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