Editor’s note: Letter writer Randy Pitzer also sent this to the Plumas County Board of Supervisors with regard to the Portola mine project.
The negative externalities related to this project are already well known and therefore need not be rehashed here. I would rather focus on some basic principles surrounding this proposal.
As a person who has traveled in over 40 countries on six continents I can honestly say I have experienced seeing some of the poorest living conditions imaginable to mankind up front and personal. I can not tell you how many times I have been stopped dead in my tracks over the years wondering how on Earth some people could be subjected to some of the most horrendous environmental conditions imaginable. The answer usually comes right down to a lack of upstanding moral leadership.
I am not at all against responsible mining. Without it we clearly wouldn’t have our current modern society that has unquestionably improved the quality of life for so many people. However, I am against irresponsible mining. A mining operation of the proposed magnitude on the outskirts of Portola is exactly that, irresponsible. If the proposed operation were 3 miles (preferably more) away from the nearest home and obliged to comply with all environmental safety guidelines, I would have no problem with it whatsoever. However, allowing the edge of the operation to be less than a mile away from 84 properties purchased for their serenity and pure clean well water on the north side of Portola is simply unacceptable on many levels. I am almost certain that not a one of of my neighbors would willingly subject your property to this kind of treatment and would hope that you show us the same respect when deciding this matter.
There is another other aspect of this project that I would like the board to address. Is it not true that a small non-intrusive licensed mine already exists on the property HCC purchased for this project, thereby allowing HCC to avoid having to seek new licensing for the scope of this project by the environmentally stringent state of California? The proposed project is on the border of a community of nearly 2000 people and in the middle of a recognized sensitive wildlife preserve. Now that the camel has its nose under the tent so to speak, HCC is obviously better positioned to succeed in its proposed endeavor by seeking a seemingly harmless expansion to the already licensed mine. Don’t fall for it. I can think of no other way to describe this behavior other than highly predatory in nature.
Lastly, allowing this mine to go forward would be nothing short of adding insult to injury after having the State poison Lake Davis (one of Portola’s water supplies) in 2007. If I remember correctly, that action was decided over the heads of the Plumas County Supervisors Commission. HCC’s proposal is not.
In conclusion, stopping this project dead in its tracks is the most conscientious course of action you can take. Allowing Portola to be subjected to inescapable air, light and noise pollution along with the real threat of longer term serious health issues as well as some serious environmental degradation possibilities would be very shortsighted. Failure to stop this project would border on Third World environmental negligence, such as I have witnessed in my travels. I implore the board instead to act as good stewards of our environment in the here and now and for generations to come.
Thank you for your time and consideration,