THEMAC Resources Group – BLM Scoping Meeting Thank You – Opinion EditorialPosted: 03/16/2012 | Posted By: News Resource/Publisher
These days, any company wanting to open a mine in the United States will undergo significant, prolonged public scrutiny. And, that’s a good thing because there are many regulations well designed to protect the environment and the culture of the immediate area surrounding the proposed project.
For our Copper Flat Project, the BLM Scoping meetings that were held Feb. 22 in Hillsboro and the following evening in T or C were important steps in the overall permitting process. About 50 people in Hillsboro and 100 in T or C, the vast majority Sierra County residents, spoke up and expressed their views regarding the project. We were hopeful that more of the local residents would have attended, but we understand that most families have prior commitments.
We are encouraged by the strong level of public support demonstrated at the meetings, and appreciative of the statements made by those who are concerned or opposed. All of the comments made at the meetings go into the record and will be considered in the Bureau of Land Management’s decisions on our permits.
The BLM is designated as the lead agency in the permitting process for Copper Flat, in large part because much of our project is on BLM land. While we need to obtain several Federal, State and County
consents, the overarching permitting document is the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), which is produced under a federal law called the National Environmental Policy Act, or NEPA. While quoting federal law can be tedious, the opening sentences of NEPA, written in 1969, lay out our country’s permitting policy in a clear, even elegant fashion:
“To declare a national policy which will encourage productive and enjoyable harmony between man and his environment; to promote efforts which will prevent or eliminate damage to the environment and biosphere and stimulate the health and welfare of man; to enrich the understanding of the ecological systems and natural resources important to the Nation.”
To me, that language recognizes modern society’s requirement for natural resource development and at the same time instructs us to do our best to protect the environment. It means that a balance must be achieved between the Country’s need for copper, and the ecosystem’s need for clean and careful mining. Our friends in the ranching and logging businesses today apply this concept as well. Care must be taken to assure resource development that is compatible and sustainable with a healthy environment for future generations.
In New Mexico, we find this balance by having robust discussions and letting people present their views. The BLM Scoping meetings last month were just the first of several opportunities the public will have to scrutinize and weigh in on our project. For example, along with the EIS, the agencies are conducting Environmental Assessments, which evaluate the impacts of and best ways to proceed with such things as our water pumping tests. Those Environmental Assessments are open to public review, just like the EIS.
All of these actions are guided by that desire to achieve “productive and enjoyable harmony between man and his environment.” It doesn’t mean NEPA can be invoked any time to halt sensible development, and it doesn’t mean we can sacrifice America’s natural heritage in the name of economic growth. It means we work together to find balance.
On behalf of everyone at THEMAC Resources, I want to extend our appreciation for everyone’s participation thus far. I encourage you to stay involved in the Copper Flat discussion as we collectively seek to provide needed metals and resources for ourselves and the world, and jobs for New Mexico, in an environmentally responsible fashion.
André J. Douchane
Chief Executive Officer