Judge Rules In Favor Of Nome's Rock Creek Mine - Nova Gold
June 14, 2007
A U.S. district court judge ruled last Friday to dismiss the lawsuit of the Bering Strait Citizens for Responsible Resource Development, Jana Varrati and Sue Steinacher against the Army Corps of Engineers over the issuance of a wetlands permit for Alaska Gold Company's Rock Creek gold mine.
Citing mostly economic reasons, after a hearing last Thursday, US District Court Judge Ralph Beistline denied the plaintiff's motion for a temporary restraining order and a preliminary injunction to stop all construction at the mine site. Beistline also dismissed the entire case, concluding "the permit in question was properly issued."
The plaintiffs contested the legality of a 404 wetlands permit issued in August 2006, saying that it was issued in violation of the Clean Water Act and the National Environmental Policy Act. The lawsuit was the second filing of the same claim. A first suit brought against the Corps in October 2006 resulted in the Corps' retracting the permit for internal review in December. The permit was modified and reinstated in March 2007. The plaintiffs then filed the second lawsuit.
Beistline's ruling came after a hearing on Thursday, June 6, when three government lawyers from the Department of Law defended the primary defendant, the Army Corps of Engineers. Nova Gold Resources Inc. intervened in the lawsuit bringing two lawyers to testify in Beistline’s courtroom.
In his ruling, Judge Beistline wrote ,”It appears that before bringing this venture, Alaska Gold Company went to a great lengths to publicize its intentions and to obtain the support of the local community, two Native organizations, as well as state and federal agencies.
Beistline concluded, “ As a result, there is considerable public support for this project and a realistic hope for an economic boon to the community.”
For background information on this story – see below.
'Warm Fuzzies' With Cyanide?
Native Unity: Tuesday, September 19, 2006
NOME NUGGET - Editorial September 14th edition
Submitted by a Concerned Citizen
It's amazing how folks will confuse public relations with news. There are a few folks in Nome who have said that the Nome Nugget has been too negative about the proposed use of cyanide at the Rock Creek Mine site. Cyanide is just another industrial chemical according to the NovaGold folks.
Well shuckiedarn! How can we candy coat cyanide? It's a deadly poison! How can we in all honesty accept the propaganda about the benefits of cyanide in our community? We'll get a good look at it this fall when they propose to park two container vans of the industrial strength cyanide out near Nome-Beltz High School at Satellite Field.
Folks who are proponents of cyanide leaching for gold extraction say that they will monitor the tailings and nothing bad will happen. They will monitor the tailings piles for several years. The joke is that they might even hire the same folks to monitor the cyanide tailings who were monitoring the BP oil pipeline.
Some proponents of cyanide leaching say that the folks who find scientific flaws in the proposed techniques are using biased science. That's a desperate excuse. Science is not biased. Science is factual; it is truth and laws. It is how we utilize scientific knowledge that is important. Will the future generations of Nomeites thank us for our economic concerns or will they scorn our scientific ignorance?
Cyanide leaching allows 13 percent more gold recovery. NovaGold claims that the mine would not make money if they didn't utilize cyanide. One wonders how much money they would save if they didn't have to purchase cyanide and didn't have to pay for monitoring a mountainous tailings pile for 30 years?
Please understand that there are critical decisions to be made and the Nugget is not about to candy coat the truth. This paper is not a public relations publication. The news is not always good. We can't dish out the feel good, warm fuzzies when we are dealing with cyanide. —N.L.M.—
Minority Farmers Protest Discrimination
Submitted by Monica Davis
By Richard Duke
The Pine Bluff Commercial Staff
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
In the office of the Farm Service Agency in downtown Pine Bluff, a sign hangs on a wall that says, “A helping hand to family farms.” To some in the office Monday, it felt more like a slap in the face.
Eight black farmers sat in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s office in the federal building at Pine Bluff Monday as part of a demonstration seeking a meeting in Washington, D.C., with USDA officials.
Citing racism, prejudice and bias in a number of USDA offices around the state, Fernando Burkett, executive director of the Black Farmers and Agriculturists Association (BFAA), led the participating farmers in a peaceful demonstration that culminated with a telephone call to state offices in Little Rock.
While waiting on a phone call back from an official in Washington, Burkett said that a future demonstration could be held with members from other chapters.
“Highlighting the problem now will hopefully bring about change in the future,” he said. At 4 p.m., Burkett received a phone call from Carolyn Cooksey, the deputy USDA administrator over loans, and, after she reviews materials sent by Burkett, a face-to-face meeting may be set to address the group’s issues.
Black farmers contended in a class action lawsuit filed in the late 1990s that they were routinely denied loans because of their race. The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia approved a settlement and the USDA and black farmers entered into a consent degree.
As part of a settlement agreement, the USDA agreed to allow farmers to obtain a $50,000 settlement in instances where it could be determined that discrimination had occurred
A number of farmers have since contended they were excluded from the settlement.
Burkett cited what he contended was an internal memo which allegedly made the rounds in a USDA office in Arkansas that used several derogatory terms for African
The memo, a “mock” application for employment, included offensive material concerning racial stereotypes. Burkett said the memo did not originate in Pine Bluff and he came in contact with it after a USDA employee sent it to him.
Burkett said that while the memo is more overt in racial tones, the group is more concerned with the prejudice demonstrated in response to loan applications and services to black farmers. He said black farmers have been able to document repeated instances in the past 12 years that reflect discrimination from the USDA.
Previous meetings with U.S. Senators Blanche Lincoln and Mark Pryor, as well as U.S. Rep. Mike Ross, have not accomplished much, Burkett said, adding the group is still waiting to hear from Gov. Mike Beebe.
“We keep addressing these issues over and over again,” he said. “There are problems in (the Pine Bluff) office, and there are problems around the state and the nation.”
Burkett said the agency has had a history of discrimination involving many administrators and employees, but he pointed out that many who work for the agency are not prejudiced.
While members of the non-profit organization met with the secretary of agriculture in 2004, Burkett said the black farmers must address the same issues with the federal officials again.
“There are specific differences with the treatment of large farms owned by white people, and we just want this documented and brought to the attention of the proper authorities,” he said
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