PROCESS FOR OPEN PIT MINE IN INDIAN VALLEY BEGINS
US Copper SEEKS DETERMINATION OF Vested rights in Plumas County
Prior to October of 2023, US CCOPPER CORP (represented by ENVIROMINE) requested a DETERMINATION of vested rights for the Engels-Superior mines with Plumas County. County staff, after reviewing the request, wrote a REPORT recommending that the ZONING ADMINISTRATOR, Jim Graham approve the finding of vested rights. At a HEARING on October 11, 2023, due to concerns raised by Plumas County residents, Mr. Graham left the public hearing open and continued the determination to a later date. This decision was made in order to give both county staff and citizens more time to discover facts relevant to the determination of vested rights in this case.
The hearing resumed at a MEETING on December 13, 2023. Again, a group of well-informed citizens raised concerns over the consequences of finding vested rights. The meeting concluded with the county expressing the need to hire professional support in making this determination and again continuing the determination to a future date.
In a MEETING on February 6, the Plumas County BOARD OF SUPERVISORS will discuss writing agreements between Plumas County and LAND LOGISTICS INC for SMARA permit management services and BEST BEST & KRIEGER LLP (BBK) for assistance in determining vested rights for US Copper.
The zoning administrator will reconvene this hearing again on April 10, where the recommendations of BBK are expected to be announced. After the April 10 hearing, county staff and citizens will have a chance to prepare final comments and findings. The zoning administrator's vested rights determination is expected to take place in the April 8, 2024 Zoning Administrator's meeting.
You may send public comment to Interim Zoning Administrator, Jim Graham at email@example.com. Please note in your email that you wish to submit it to the record of US Copper's vested rights request.
Once Mr. Graham has made his determination, there will be a ten-day window to make an appeal. If Mr. Graham's determination is appealed, the matter will then go before the Plumas County Board of Supervisors. The supervisor's decision may be appealed as well.
what are vested rights and why are they important?
According to DIEPENBROCK HARRISON, "a VESTED MINING RIGHT is a constitutionally protected property right to continue operating in a certain location and in a certain way without being required to conform to all current land use restrictions." While the intent behind this right is to protect pre-existing mining operations from new regulations once mining permits were required, corporate mining operations are now using them as a loophole to avoid expensive permitting and regulations - the only things preventing US Copper from leaving us with toxic water, air and land and consequently destroying our community.
A finding of vested rights means that US Copper would NOT have to apply for a permit to mine or for permits to build roads, landing pads, staging areas, or to divert water. It would also mean that US Copper would be able to skip CEQA regulations and guidelines in the planning process of the mine. US Copper would still have to create a reclamation plan for the project. However, reclamation plans only involve "putting the land back" after it has been mined, not preventing DISASTERS during operations.
While there are many opinions regarding the pros and cons of mining, one thing most of us can agree on is that if we are going to mine, we must do it without doing irreparable damage to the places we love and things which we need to survive. Another thing we can usually agree on is that activities which bring revenue to our county and its residents are good things. The vested rights determination is important. It will directly impact the revenues brought in through the permitting process and it will reduce the amount of oversight US Copper receives to encourage safe mining practices. You and I need a permit to build a deck or a carport, why would a foreign company who intends to extract billions of dollars of minerals out of our county while constructing chemical lakes in our drainage system not need a permit?
Please remember, the determination of vested rights is not a determination of whether or not there may be a mine on the proposed site. It is a matter of giving away our control of the land, revenue opportunities and protections for our water, air and land.
If you are interested in joining the Feather River Watershed Alliance and being part of the effort to support protecting our water, air, land and community, please email Dan @ firstname.lastname@example.org.