The U.S. Forest Service will likely release its Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the Stibnite Gold project for review on or around August 14. This will be the last public comment period for this full-scale open pit mining project. Click here to take action!
The Stibnite Gold project and the negative impacts of the open pit cyanide vat leach mining project will be profound and persist for thousands of years. The project is so complex and destructive that the analysis of its impacts is over 2,500 pages long, not including appendices.
While the Canadian mining company behind the project, Midas Gold, is casting the project as restoration-driven, the project clearly would harm the environment, not heal it.
- The majority of the land disturbed by Midas’ activity would be in pristine areas and not contained within the footprint of previous mining operations.
- Attempts to restore or improve habitat will be vastly overshadowed by extensive habitat destruction and long-term water quality degradation.
- While toxic mine waste left over from previous mine companies will be better contained under Midas Gold’s proposal, the new repository would be located in a pristine valley.
Under the National Environmental Policy Act, the Forest Service is required to disclose the environmental impacts of the proposed action and consider public comments in selecting alternatives and mitigation measures. Public input is critical in helping the Forest Service recognize the magnitude of the project’s impacts and find ways to try to avoid, minimize and mitigate them.
The Forest Service is currently planning on giving the public just 45 days to review and comment on this incredibly complex project. But the Forest Service can extend the comment period should circumstances allow and this project certainly calls for such action.
This project is far more complex than originally anticipated.
- Midas Gold spent more than five years developing its Plan of Operations, but subsequent analysis revealed several flaws that would have degraded water quality and fisheries, requiring the plan to be modified in mid-analysis.
- Given the irreplaceable, pristine nature of this watershed, many members of the public would benefit from having additional time to understand how this project could affect how they use this landscape and relay this critical information to the Forest Service.
COVID-19, along with Forest Service closures and limited capacity, substantially interferes with the ability to review and comment on such a complex project in such a short time frame. Asking for a 120-day comment period would give both the Forest Service and Idahoans additional time to figure out alternative approaches to meaningfully engage with each other.
The Forest Service’s motto is “Caring for the Land and Serving People.” Extending the comment period to 120 days during this time of intense uncertainty is a start in serving the people who not only care about this landscape but who are part of it.