Live blog transcript: Patagonia Town Council meeting on proposed mine - Arizona Daily Star

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Live blog transcript: Patagonia Town Council meeting on proposed mine

Arizona Daily Star reporter Tony Davis blogged live from the Patagonia Town Council meeting as the proposed Wildcat Silver mine in the Patagonia Mountains was discussed Wednesday evening.

  • Cliff Hirsch, longtime mine opponent, gets up and tells the crowd that the town is in no position to support this resolution yet. The only information out now is the plan of operations for drilling, 416 to 422 pages. He says he doesn't think the town council has ever been asked before to support or disapprove a business. This is a moneymaking deal. "I don't think there's enough information for you to make a decision," The council should put their comments out for the Forest Service and let the Forest Service decide what the town thinks about it, he says.
  • Odell Borg, a business owner, says Brent is right. This is not a pro or anti-mine meeting. Some people think there should be mining, lots of good jobs, others want to protect the environment. It's your responsibility to protect all the people in this town. Not just one segment. The idea that the Town Council should take any stand to support or oppose any mining operation is absurd. Rosemont Mine has been going on for years. These people aren't going to give up. There will be a lot of pressure continually. It makes a lot of sense for the town to stay neutral. I highly recommend that you do not make any proclamations whatsoever. Be n
  • Michael Stabile says, Everybody talks about I've been here for 30 years or this long. I've been here five years, it doesn't take long to realize that Patagonia is a real gem. No place like this anywhere. Industrialization will change the character of this place forever. Once the trucks start rolling through this town there will be no going back. What's going to happen is we'll import these miners. The qualifications here don't exist. Mines don't train people. They need to start working immediately.
  • A councilman asks: We don't have any skilled workers in Patagonia? No, I'm not trying to say that says Stabile. You go to Freeport McMoRan's website; they can't hire people they don't have the skilled workers. The councilman replies, "There are a lot of skilled workers here who have worked in mines."
  • Ray Klein says it appears the meeting is getting a little bit off the agenda item, although many comments may be valid either one. The issue is as far as I'm concerned. I want to get the facts. if Hermosa can present a plan to check what the mine might do to our water quality and it's a respected report, I say we go for it. Let's find out if this is going to be as bad for the community as some people say. I don't know. Until I get the information I can' t come to a complete conclusion." There are people here who think regardless of how little damage this would do to the community they still wouldn't want a mine. My mind is open..
  • Katie King, wife of a Wildcat Silver laborer, tells the council that the people who are for mining want it to be safe and checked into. As far as the comment made about being skilled, my husband didn't know about mining. He is not a geologist. But he had a heart to be local to stay in this town, where he grew up and wanted to raise his family. He got a job and it was a godsend to us. My family, my grandfather, my uncle, my dad, were all miners. We live in Arizona. it is a mining state. There will always be the chance of new mines or old mines being reopened.
  • Another speaker, Carolyn Schafer: The NEPA process is confusing. The Forest Service operates under the 1872 Mining Law. Nothing has changed in that law for the past 150 years,. The women in this country couldn't vote in 1872. The law is greatly outdated. The Forest Service they are mandated to follow the 1872 mining law. The Forest Service their hands are tied. These people care very much for the environment, but the 1872 law requires the service to work with these companies to handle extraction of the minerals. In 1972, Richard Nixon affirmed the 1872 law, she points out, but fortunately he also signed into law many other environmental laws. That 422 page document of Wildcat Silver is available online. These holes are exploratory drilling to determine the minerals that are there. The Town Council took off the agenda on whether to vote for approval of this. My recommendation is that the Town Council provide comments to the scoping service regarding water. This doesn't object to the plan of operations. It merely says to the Forest Service, these are critical items for our water. I think it's important for people to understand about this process. It's not about whether or not we approve a hydrological study or not tonight. It can and should be done by someone, she says. The company paying for it is very appropriate.
  • The Vice Mayor, Andrea Wood, says she's like to put together a forum on this subject. You need facts, she said. Opinions aren't enough, she says. Afterward, I spoke with her briefly. She said the council's views on the resolution supported by Mr. Bowden aren't clear yet. First, she wants to hold a bigger, communitywide forum on this drilling plan, complete with a facilitator. She says she also wants to have the council comment officially on the drilling plan to the Forest Service during the current "scoping" period in which the Forest Service affects written comments on the mine drilling plan. At this point, it's too early to say what if any stance the council will take on this drilling plan, she said -- or even to say exactly what actions will happen next.
  • So that's it. I was surprised. it was a vigorous discussion, but not nasty, pointed, vicious or intemperate the way some of these mine meetings are. Now, everyone is up, standing, chatting with friends, allies, neighbors, maybe even adversaries. It felt more like a town meeting and less like a confrontation. But then, this discussion over Wildcat Silver
  • --this discussion over Wildcat Silver has only been going on three years or so. Let's see how it feels in a year or two.
  • I'm very sorry once again. I posted the next to last paragraph on this blog before my sentence was finished, so I had to finish it in a separate post. That's it. This meeting was over by 8:15 p.m., only an hour and 15 minutes after it began. For a mine controversy like this one, that has to be some kind of record for brevity.
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