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Native Rights: VANCOUVER : B.C.

Native veto new reality in B.C.'s resource sector

PATRICK BRETHOUR, The Globe and Mail
September 21, 2007

VANCOUVER -- Just a few hours before the thunderclap decision that has all but killed the Kemess North project, the mining industry was thinking it was business as usual in British Columbia.

Until Tuesday, the formula for getting regulatory approval for your mine or logging operation was simple enough. Decide what you want to do. Listen carefully to objections from aboriginal bands and make copious notes. Then, go ahead and do what you wanted to do in the first place.

The give-me-what-I-want approach is history in B.C. now, with the joint federal-provincial review panel handing aboriginal bands a veto over resource development in everything but name. Aboriginal groups across the province are hailing that decision as a precedent - and the mining industry fears they may be right.

At first glance, Kemess North seems to be an unlikely candidate for an about-turn in control over B.C.'s resource development. Just a few kilometres away is the Kemess South open-pit mine. Despite the concerns over using a glacial lake to hold tailings from Kemess North, the area is hardly unblemished wilderness. There were substantial economic benefits for local aboriginals, including about one-fifth of jobs and an annual payment of $1-million to the Tse Keh Nay band. So, Northgate Minerals Corp. could be forgiven its self-described cautious optimism heading into the release of the panel's decision, the culmination of nearly four years of regulatory scrutiny.

What Northgate and the rest of the mining industry have only now begun to understand is how dramatically the province's relationship with native bands has changed in the course of those four years, courtesy of the Supreme Court of Canada and a volte-face by Premier Gordon Campbell.

In 2005 - a few months after the review of Kemess North began - Mr. Campbell proclaimed the "new relationship" with native groups, a 180-degree turnabout from his previous confrontational stance toward treaty settlements and other aboriginal claims. Later that year came the Supreme Court decision on the Mikisew Cree First Nation, which said governments have a duty to conduct "meaningful consultations on industrial development that could affect treaty rights."

No one is quite sure what that means, but native bands have believed that the principle articulated in Mikisew and other similar decisions give them a veto over resource development. Certainly, that seems to be the thinking of the review panel, which said Northgate's proposals for compensating natives for the destruction of the lake and other traditional lands is a non-starter. "Since the Panel has seen no evidence that Aboriginal groups would embrace the Project on that basis, the prospects for negotiation and agreement on a package of such measures do not appear to be promising."

The Carrier Sekani Tribal Council was the arm flexing that muscle. Far from coincidentally, the confederation of seven aboriginal bands is preparing to jettison its treaty talks with the province. Tribal chief David Luggi is clear on two critical points: The Supreme Court has given real power to aboriginal bands and the Carrier Sekani will exercise that power as they see fit, whatever the cost to industry. Northgate will have company before long. "We're only starting the tally. If the government doesn't come to the table and deal with aboriginal people honourably, more of these projects are going to fade away."

It all adds up to a massive swirl of uncertainty, that most toxic of environments for capital investment. "Some people refer to it as the Wild West out there," says Michael McPhie, president and chief executive officer of the Mining Association of British Columbia. The association is urging the province to clarify the obligations toward aboriginal bands for potential investors. That clarity, of course, is the overarching goal of the treaty process in B.C., where most of the bands have yet to sign any formal surrender of their rights to their traditional lands.

There are rumblings that the panel exceeded its writ by placing such an emphasis on social and cultural issues, and there are hopes that provincial and federal politicians could overturn its decision. Mr. McPhie, pronouncing himself a realist, acknowledges it would be difficult for Ottawa or B.C. to overrule the panel. It's inconceivable that Mr. Campbell would discard his hard-won political capital among natives, particularly with treaties heading for ratification votes this fall. His New Relationship has just become the new reality of investing in B.C.


pbrethour@globeandmail.com
Joan Kuyek
National Coordinator
MiningWatch Canada
Suite 508, 250 City Centre Avenue
Ottawa, Ontario K1R 6K7 Canada
tel. (613) 569-3439 fax: (613) 569-5138
e-mail: joan@miningwatch.ca
http://www.miningwatch.ca

 

Women's Rights: L.A. : CA.

From: Global Women's Strike/LA
la@crossroadswomen.net
June 06, 2007

Crossroads Women's Center needs your help following break-in!

Global Women’s Strike
PO Box 86681 Los Angeles CA 90086 323-276-9833
la@crossroadswomen.net , www.globalwomenstrike.net

Crossroads Women’s Center Recovering from Break-in
– Your Help Needed!

Dear Friends,

In the lead up to the 8th Annual Global Women’s Strike, the Crossroads Women’s Center -- formerly located in the Friends Meeting House in South Central LA, where the Global Women’s Strike/LA and Women of Color in the GWS, Every Mother is a Working Mother Network had been based -- was broken into, vandalized and a lot of our crucial equipment was stolen, including a computer, router, printer, phone and fax machine. We are now located at the Eastside Café.

But, we need your help. As you know, GWS and the other groups based at the Center are unfunded grassroots women’s networks, and we are now in great need of help replacing and securing our equipment and setting up the new technology. We know there are times when we all pull together to get through a crisis – this is one of those times! We are appealing urgently for your contribution of any of the following:

  • financial assistance to help cover purchase of a computer, router, phone and fax
  • Pro-bono (donating time without charge) tech people who could help with computer set up and assist in trouble shooting computer problems as they arise
  • One metal cabinet w/shelves with doors with a lock that works – approx. 3’ wide – 4-5 shelves high
  • LEGAL size filing cabinet with a working lockthat locks – preferably 5 drawer size
  • sturdy work desk if possible with side drawers that could be locked, not wider than 36”
  • desk lamp
  • air purifier for large room (1000 cubic ft)
  • 2 radiating space heaters (to accommodate large room)
  • one large indoor plant
  • one or two area rugs
  • one vacuum cleaner
  • one working copy machine (desk top preferable)

Additionally volunteer help is always welcome, including those who like to garden! In addition to our on-going initiative work including support for Rev. Pinkney and grassroots efforts in Benton Harbor, grassroots women active in the Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela and in Haiti, anti-war and other work, we are now part of the El Sereno Community Garden where we will be helping to maintain the Eastside Café garden plot as well as maintaining a space where we will be growing plants indigenous to Southern California. Our mailing address is:
PO Box 86681,
Los Angeles, CA 90086.

In-kind donations of equipment are welcome.

Please let us hear from you soon as we want our new Center to be completely up and running as quickly as possible! Our new street address is:

Crossroads Women’s Center,
c/o Eastside Café, 5469
Huntington Drive North

(at Maycrest) L.A. 90032 (not a mailing address).

Our public hours at this time are Mondays and Thursdays 11-4pm.

If you would like to donate, visit or volunteer, please call us at our new phone number: 323-276-9833, or email us at la@crossroadswomen.net . Visit the GWS website at www.globalwomenstrike.net .

Thank you so much in advance for your help!

Sincerely,
Pamela J. Hall for the Crossroads Women’s Center
Ruth Todasco for the Global Women’s Strike/LA

Yes, I/we would like to make a contribution to help speed recovery following the break-in of the Crossroads Women’s Center:

$100____; $50____; $25_____$10_____, or an in-kind donation_______________

Name___________________________Address______________________________

Email___________________________Phone________________________________

Make checks payable to Wages for Housework Campaign, and mail to:

PO Box 86681, Los Angeles CA, 90086

Thank you!

PRINTABLE VERSION

 

Mines : CHARLESTON : W.Va.

Judge blocks mountaintop mine permits.
Miners would have been able to fill valleys with mined ore

March 26, 2007
Associated Press

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - A federal judge ruled Friday that the Army Corps of Engineers illegally issued permits for four mountaintop removal mines without adequately determining whether the environment would be harmed.

U.S. District Judge Chuck Chambers rescinded the permits, which allow four mines operated by Massey Energy Co. to fill nearby valleys with dirt, rocks and other material removed to expose coal seams.

The Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition and two other environmental groups had sued to force the corps to perform more extensive environmental reviews before granting valley fill permits for the mines.

The corps had maintained that more extensive reviews weren't necessary for the permits.

Chambers remanded the permits to the corps for further consideration.

Messages left after hours for the corps and for Richmond, Va.-based Massey were not immediately returned.

The issue of mountaintop removal and valley fills has been argued in state and federal courts in the region for nearly a decade. Coal operators claim the practice is an efficient way to expose seams in mountainous coalfields.

Environmentalists call the technique destructive and point to a 2005 study that said mountaintop removal and valley fills had buried 1,200 miles of headwater streams in Appalachia.

The corps had argued that mitigation techniques, including restoring streams, would offset any harmful effects. Chambers, however, said the agency failed to assess the full impact of destroying headwater streams within a watershed.

"The evidence to date shows that the Corps has no scientific basis ­ no real evidence of any kind ­ upon which it bases its decisions to permit this permanent destruction to streams and headwaters," said Steve Roady, a lawyer with Washington-based Earthjustice, which represented the environmental groups.

Bill Raney, president of the West Virginia Coal Association, said he had not read the ruling and had no immediate comment. The association had intervened in the lawsuit.

 

Coal Mines : Sierra de Perija : Venezuela

Celebrate this wonderful victory with our campaign partners, the indigenous peoples and environmental organizations of Venezuela!

Dear Members of Global Response’s “Quick Response Network,”

After more than a year of intense pressure, on March 21 President Chavez issued a Presidential Decree that no new coal mines will be built in the Sierra de Perija, and no expansion will be permitted in existing coal mines. “By saying today ‘Not one more mine in Zulia state,’ president Hugo Chavez brings back hope for the future of the indigenous peoples of the Sierra de Perija and for life itself,” said the Wayuu and Yukpa communities in a press release.

The Sierra de Perija along Venezuela’s northwestern border is home to Wayuu, Yukpa and Bari indigenous peoples who have vigorously protested explorations in their territories by multinational coal companies. The indigenous communities rejected collective land titles offered by the Chavez administration because the titles excluded the sites of new mines slated for development this year.

In January 2006, I was among thousands of participants in the World Social Forum who marched with people from the Sierra de Perija through the streets of the capital, under banners that read “NO AL CARBON” (No to Coal). I visited their remote communities and, with the help of the environmental NGO Homo et Natura, developed a Global Response campaign to internationalize their struggle (see http://www.globalresponse.org/gra.php?i=1/06)

Muchisimas gracias to everyone who wrote a letter to president Chavez for this campaign. Pro-Chavez people told us we shouldn’t campaign against his policies. Anti-Chavez people told us he would never respond to international pressure. We campaigned for the rights of the indigenous peoples and for protection of a magnificent, biologically rich forest ecosystem, as we do all around the world. The indigenous communities kept up constant protests against the mines until yesterday – when they won! It is very sweet to celebrate this victory with them!

Paula Palmer, Executive Director Global Response

****************************************

Below is an unofficial translation of a press release issued by Homo et Natura and the Wayuu and Yukpa communities:

By Presidential Decree, the Environmental Minister Prohibits New Coal Mines in Zulia State

Caracas, March 21, 2007. By presidential decree, the Environmental Minister Yubiri Ortega de Carrizalez announced yesterday to the Yukpa and Wayuu indigenous peoples of the Sierra de Perija that opening new coal mines in the state of Zulia is prohibited, as well as the expansion of the existing Guasare and Paso Diablo mines.

Yesterday, indigenous people from Perija and the social and environmental movements that were protesting against the coal mines at the Ministry felt that we had buried in Caracas the ghost of coal and its threats against the indigenous peoples of Zulia state. However, until the mining concessions are canceled by decree, we will continue this struggle.

“We are very hopeful,” said the Environmental Minister to the Yukpa and Wayuu leaders, Homo et Natura and the alternative media, “because the president has ordered a new model of development for the region encompassing ecology, agriculture, tourism and sustainable development.”

We know that the powerful multinational mining interests in Zulia will keep trying to keep their mega-coal project alive, whatever the cost. Questions remail about the future of the Nigales Bridge, Bolivar Port and the Zulia railroads, all of which were designed to carry coal….

If coal mines -- which represent the grief of thousands of families that have lost their children and husbands, suffered poverty and contamination of their soil, air and water, lost their forests, rivers, vegetation – are stopped forever,

If the Venezuelan state decrees finally that mines will be defeated and replaced by agriculture, sustainable grazing, in favor of life, we will find the eyes of the world seeing an exemplary act of social justice and the beginning of necessary change.

Coal mines already destroyed whole communities in Mara, destroyed the forests and rivers in their way, left the Bari indigenous people without lands, and brought indigenous leaders to their knees for decades, making their own people feel ashamed of them. By saying today “Not one more mine in Zulia state,” president Hugo Chavez brings back hope for the future of the indigenous peoples of the Sierra de Perija and for life itself. Now we await the decree that will defeat forever this black curse….”

* THANK YOU FOR YOUR LETTERS! Since 1990, Global Response has organized over 100 international letter-writing campaigns, and in 43% of them we have already celebrated victories!

* MAKE A TAX-DEDUCTIBLE CONTRIBUTION to support Global Response. We need and appreciate your support!

* REGISTER to receive Global Response action alerts by email or regular mail. Give a gift membership to teachers, young people, friends and family members.

* BUY GLOBAL RESPONSE MERCHANDISE including great campaign posters, postcards, t-shirts, etc.

Paula Palmer, Executive Director

www.globalresponse.org

Tel. 303 444-0306 ext. 103

 

Clean Water : Environmental : Alaska

This is HUGE !! Finally one for the earth and for our future as her craziest inhabitants! Congrats to all who fought this fight!

From YubaNet.com

US
Major Clean Water Act Ruling in Alaska
Author: EarthJustice
Mar 17, 2007

The federal Clean Water Act cannot be used to destroy an Alaskan lake, a federal appeals court said today, in a ruling that may set precedent about how the Act is interpreted nationwide.

Although the full ruling is not yet released, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals said the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was wrong in letting a gold mine company dump toxic mine tailings into a lake near Juneau.

"In issuing its permit to Coeur Alaska for the use of Lower Slate Lake as a disposal site, the Corps violated the Clean Water Act," the court said in the first of a two-part ruling on Kensington Mine dumping operations.

Today's ruling disallowed a diversion ditch which the court said was environmentally destructive and which violated a previous injunction against the mine. But, the court said it would rule against the entire dumping procedure in its final opinion.

The ruling should prevent mines across the United States from likewise dumping into lakes, streams and rivers, said Tom Waldo, attorney for Earthjustice, a non-profit law firm that filed the appeal on behalf of citizen and conservation groups.

"The Kensington permit was a test case by the Bush Administration to resurrect destructive mining practices from the pick-and-shovel days," Waldo said. "We've learned from the mistakes of the past. The Clean Water Act prohibited these practices, and today's court ruling confirms that."

Waldo expressed hope that the court ruling would deter such operations elsewhere in Alaska -- notably the proposed Pebble Mine in Bristol Bay, home of the world's largest sockeye salmon fishery. Pebble Mine, like Kensington, is designed to dump vast quantities of toxic mine tailings into lakes. A broad coalition of business, environmental, fishing and native groups is opposing the mine because of its damaging potential.

In 1982, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) adopted regulations under the Clean Water Act prohibiting new gold mines from dumping their tailings into waterways. Even at that time, EPA determined that most mines no longer dumped their tailings into water bodies, and that "The plain language of the Clean Water Act simply prohibits the discharge authorized by the Corps of Engineers,'' Waldo said.

The Corps' permit granted Coeur d'Alene Mines Corporation the right to dump 210,000 gallons per day of a toxic waste slurry into the lake, despite the availability of disposal methods less damaging to the environment.

The slurry is a byproduct of a gold extraction process that blends water with crushed ore. Attorneys representing mine developers and the federal government said the slurry is legal fill material in their view of the law, but the court rejected that argument.

The mine site is in Berners Bay, about 35 miles northwest of Juneau. The disputed permit would fill Lower Slate Lake, a 23-acre wooded, sub-alpine lake in the Berners Bay watershed. All fish and most other life forms would have been killed.

Coeur already had approval to build a conventional dry land tailings disposal facility, but the company applied for a permit to dump tailings directly into the lake as a cost-cutting measure.

Earthjustice represents the Southeast Alaska Conservation Council, Lynn Canal Conservation, and the Sierra Club.

Read the decision (PDF).

 

Desert Rock : environmental: New Mexico

ACTION ALERT: Sign Petition to Oppose Desert Rock!!

SUPPORT INDIGENOUS COMMUNITIES ON THE FRONT LINES!
NO COAL FIRED POWER PLANTS! NO MINING OF COAL!

*** Please distribute far and wide!! ***

Hello friends and allies!

HELP STOP THE DESERT ROCK POWER PLANT!
Click here to sign the petition! http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/no_desertrock/

Time is running out! These signatures will be delivered to legislators who will be voting on the Desert Rock power plant. We have a very short amount of time to gather the names of people in opposition.

Your help is appreciated!

The Desert Rock power plant would be the third power plant on the Navajo reservation, south of Shiprock, NM. Elders and community members have been camped out in resistance to the power plant since December. We are now at the State Legislature in New Mexico opposing two bills that would give the power plant an $85 million tax credit.

The 1,500-megawatt coal-fired energy plant would pump more than 10 million tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere annually, increasing the state of New Mexico's carbon dioxide contribution by at least 25
percent. The existing power plants in this area have been extremely devastating to the environment and the people of the area.

Please support Dooda Desert Rock, SAGE Council, and others as they work to stop this power plant from being built.

Thank you!

For more information, visit www.desert-rock-blog.com

http://www.blackmesais.org

 

Sacred Sites: archaeological : Guatemala City


Maya Priests to Purify Site After Bush Visit


By JUAN CARLOS LLORCA
The Associated Press
Friday, March 9, 2007; 12:20 AM
http://www.washingtonpost.com

GUATEMALA CITY -- Mayan priests will purify a sacred archaeological site to eliminate "bad spirits" after President Bush visits next week, an official with close ties to the group said Thursday.

"That a person like (Bush), with the persecution of our migrant brothers in the United States, with the wars he has provoked, is going to walk in our sacred lands, is an offense for the Mayan people and their culture," Juan Tiney, the director of a Mayan nongovernmental organization with close ties to Mayan religious and
political leaders, said Thursday.

Bush's seven-day tour of Latin America includes a stopover beginning late Sunday in Guatemala. On Monday morning he is scheduled to visit the archaeological site Iximche on the high western plateau in a region of the Central American country populated mostly by Mayans.

Tiney said the "spirit guides of the Mayan community" decided it would be necessary to cleanse the sacred site of "bad spirits" after Bush's visit so that their ancestors could rest in peace. He also said the rites _ which entail chanting and burning incense, herbs and candles _ would prepare the site for the third summit of Latin American Indians March 26-30.

Bush's trip has already has sparked protests elsewhere in Latin America, including protests and clashes with police in Brazil hours before his arrival. In Bogota, Colombia, which Bush will visit on Sunday, 200 masked students battled 300 riot police with rocks and small homemade explosives.

The tour is aimed at challenging a widespread perception that the United States has neglected the region and at combatting the rising influence of Venezuelan leftist President Hugo Chavez, who has called Bush "history's greatest killer" and "the devil."

Iximche, 30 miles west of the capital of Guatemala City, was founded as the capital of the Kaqchiqueles kingdom before the Spanish conquest in 1524.

 

From: robert.tohe@sierraclub.org
Monday, March 12, 2007

Sacred Lands : San Francisco Peaks


Decision in 9th Circuit Ct of Appeals on San Francisco Peaks

Federal Court Blocks Artificial Snowmaking On Sacred Lands

Its official! The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has given its decision in the San Francisco Peaks Lawsuit. The Navajo, Hopi, Havasupai, Hualapai, Yavapai-Apache, and White Mt. Apache, Sierra Club, Flagstaff Activists Network, and Center for Biological Diversity have prevailed on their Religious Freedom Restoration Act legal claims in a decision handed down today. This is a big victory and will help tribes in their battle to save sacred sites. For the content of the decision in its entirety go the link at the bottom of the News Release. Thanks to all who stood by us as we were turned away by forest service decision makers, and refused at the district court trial. We have endured unspeakable works and acts for standing in defense of the sacred mountain. However we must remain vigilant. We must ensure our participation is head and understood at different levels of government. It is incumbent for us to take the responsibilities to make this happen. Thanks again.

Robert E. Tohe
Sierra Club
Environmental Justice Organizer
PO Box 38
Flagstaff, AZ 86002
robert.tohe@sierraclub.org
Phone 928-774-6103
Fax 928-774-6138

Sacred Land decision.doc

 


Save the Giant Sequoias from Bulldozers!
Care2 Action Alerts  actionalerts@care2.com]
Monday, March 12, 2007

Save the Giant Sequoia National Monument from bulldozers

Take Action!

Giant Sequoia National Monument is home to more than half the giant sequoias in existence and also provides essential habitat for the California spotted owl, Pacific fisher and other plants and animals

Tell US Forest Service Chief Kimbell to extend permanent protections to these trees!

How do you protect precious Giant Sequoias from forest fire? According to this administration, you open the area up to logging!

Tell the Forest Service to extend permanent protection from logging to Giant Sequoia National Monument!>> http://go.care2.com/e/R6Mj/Fg6N/Exrg

Masquerading as a necessary measure to protect the forests and surrounding homes from wildfires, the proposed plan would open our precious ancient Sequoia groves to chainsaws and bulldozers. In fact, it would very likely increase the chances of fires because logging large fire-resistant trees leaves behind only smaller, more combustible trees and highly-flammable dead limbs, branches, brush and needles.

This plan has been rebuked by the federal courts, but the Bush Administration is refusing to back off trying to log this irreplaceable ancient forest. More than half of the remaining groves - located in Giant Sequoia National Monument - are in jeopardy.

By contrast, neighboring Sequoia National Park's innovative conservation and fire prevention strategies have reinvigorated the Giant Sequoia groves there and made nearby communities safer while helping avoid harmful logging.

Please sign our petition to US Forest Service Chief Abigail Kimbell urging her to extend permanent protections to these imperiled trees!

Thank you,

Emily L.
Care2 and
ThePetitionSite Team

 

Sacred Sites : San Francisco Peaks: California

From: Indigenous Action klee@blackfire.net

Save the Peaks Appeals Events Update!

Ya'a'teh!
Check out the update, photos, audio and even a little video at www.savethepeaks.org for info on the Save the Peaks Appeals Court Events.

Ahee' hee' to everyone for their support!

~klee

September 14, 2006
Contact: coalition@savethepeaks.org

Hundreds Show Support For Native American Sacred Sites & Human Rights Navajo Nation President and Tribal Leaders, Among Many, at 9th Circuit Court of Appeals

San Francisco, CA - Hundreds of people gathered today in front of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco, unified in efforts to save a sacred mountain in Arizona from desecration by a proposed ski resort development. The courts heard arguments against the ski resorts proposed expansion and plan to make snow out of treated sewage effluent. This wastewater has been proven to contain harmful contaminants, such as pharmaceuticals, hormones and cancer causing agents.

Just the thought of making snow with reclaimed sewer water on the San Francisco Peaks should be an affront to all people of conscience, said Howard Shanker of the Shanker Law Firm who represented the Navajo Nation, Havasupai, Yavapai Apache, White Mountain Apache, Sierra Club, and others. The Peaks are sacred to 13 of the Tribes in the Southwestern United States. We are here because the lower court decision was wrong. We are hopeful that this will be a case where what the court determines to be legal is also right and morally defensible.

Tribal officials, including the President of the Navajo Nation, spiritual leaders, environmental activists and dozens of grassroots supporters traveled from throughout the country to join together with Native American communities and environmental groups from the Bay Area. The courtroom overflowed while outside colorful banners went up and numerous prayers were offered.

This is a precedent setting case, which threatens to undermine Native American religious freedoms and environmental integrity. Said Rudy Preston of the Flagstaff Activist Network. The significance of this case is shown through the unity of the plaintiffs made up of Indigenous Nations, environmental groups, and individual community members. This is not just an issue of indigenous rights violations, this is an extreme environmental and human rights crisis.

Representatives of the Navajo Nation, the Hopi Tribe, the Hualapai Tribe, Acoma, Yavapai Apache, the Sierra Club, Flagstaff Activist Network and the Save the Peaks Coalition spoke at a news conference immediately after the 9th Circuit Arguments.

Citing the importance of the San Francisco Peaks to his people, Joe Shirley Jr., the President of the Navajo Nation stated, "The world needs to know that we need to defend our way of life".

I was very encouraged by what I saw and heard today, I think that the court seemed to understand the profound impact that this will have on the tribes that are involved, on their religions and on their religious practices. Said Jack Trope of DNA Legal Services.

"Many courts over the years have done the wrong thing on these issues, hopefully this is the court that is going to do the right thing" Sacred sites are the most holiest areas that our Indian people hold Sacred, it is the beginning of our way of life, these are places we go to communicate with our creator, San Francisco Peaks is one of those areas, just like Bear Butte in South Dakota, Medicine Lake in Northern California, or Mt. Shasta, or the Shell Mounds of the Ohlone. Said Jimbo Simmons of the San Francisco based International Indian Treaty Council. Today these sites are threatened by developments that have no respect for our way of life, and our spirituality, and our natural way of life, we must continue to stand up for our beliefs. The spirit of the past will rise to claim the future, thats what we are doing today.

 

Nuclear waste : Skull Valley Goshute Reservation : California

USDOI Rejects Private Fuel Storage at Skull Valley


Dear friends,

We are delighted to announce an exciting development in the long struggle to stop the Private Fuel Storage (PFS) high-level nuclear waste project proposed for the Skull Valley Goshute Reservation in Utah.

After a 9-year fight, the U.S. Interior Department on Thursday rejected the lease for the nuclear facility. This came in the form of a "one-two punch" that may have finally put an end to a plan to store 40,000 tons of high-level nuclear waste on this unique reservation- about an hour's drive from Salt Lake City, Utah.

At the outset, we want to sincerely thank everyone who has participated in this struggle with us. Countless Native and non-Native individuals and organizations have assisted with everything from contacting legislators, to participating in licensing and technical hearings, to sponsoring and hosting Goshutes and Shundahai Network personnel at related educational events around the country, to supporting and attending events on the Reservation in support of Goshutes who have been fighting endlessly to stop this nuclear dump.

This is a victory for all of us!

SUMMARY:
On Thursday, September 7th, the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) each delivered a Record of Decision, opting to take "no action" on the plan to store 40,000 tons of high-level nuclear waste on the Skull Valley Goshute Reservation in Utah. There is a link on our main web page, ( http://www.shundahai.org/index.html ) that allows you to read the entire document.

The BIA Record Of Decision focused on the irregularity of their preliminary approval of the PFS lease in 1997, noting that the BIA regional office that originally agreed to a conditional lease for the PFS dump did not have the purview to make the approval. It cites bureau policy at the time that specifically disallowed such approvals. It also notes the unenforceability of the lease because if there are violations, how can you evict such an expensive and dangerous tenant? It also discussed security issues such as difficulties with law enforcement, including lack of jurisdiction of Tooele County and the long distance from other BIA police services.

The BLM Record Of Decision focused on the fact that the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) made no mention of the possible impacts of removing the tens of thousands of tons of used nuclear fuel from "temporary" storage in Skull Valley in northern Utah, to permanent storage at Yucca Mountain in southern Nevada. Specific concerns included possible impacts on the state road through Skull Valley and on its other uses. It also notes the essential violation of the Pony Express Resource Management Plan (RMP), where waste could sit at the proposed Inter-modal Transfer Facility for a period of time, thereby constituting unauthorized nuclear storage- expressly forbidden under the RMP.

Both decisions mentioned the recent San Luis Obispo court decision regarding nuclear storage at a site in southern California. This decision required that the threat of terrorism must be weighed in the EIS, which it wasn't. This impacted the validity of the EIS, and thus the decision to store waste in Skull Valley. Both decisions cited misgivings about the loss of nuclear storage as an economic development opportunity for the Goshute Band, but noted that the land is eligible for other uses.

Both the BIA and BLM decisions used formulaic language in assessing four options that allowed for variations in the siting of a high-level nuclear storage facility, including transportation methods, and considered an alternate site in Wyoming. Ultimately the Interior Department chose option 4, the "no action" option, which rejects all other options.

THINGS TO WATCH OUT FOR:
However, this decision does not prohibit further action by PFS. It could decide to amend the EIS, and resubmit. There may also be appeal options.

Further, this decision does not preclude further action by pro-nuclear Goshutes Leon Bear, Mary Allen, and other supporters of the PFS plan as offering a venue for similar types of economic development.

With the current upheaval in tribal government, (see articles posted at http://www.shundahai.org/skull_valley_info.htm ) the Skull Valley Goshute Band could be an even more inviting target for unscrupulous developers, lobbyists, and lawyers looking to cash-in on potentially dangerous nuclear projects. It may, in fact, open up the possibility of Skull Valley being selected as one of the proposed pilot nuclear fuel reprocessing facilities, and of getting federal funding to do so.

We'll have to continue to watch this possibility closely. Reprocessing of nuclear fuel is potentially much worse than storage.

Another potential threat to watch closely is that a federal bill now moving through congress, which specifically excludes Utah as a regional interim storage facility has not passed both houses of the US legislature. There could be changes to proposed legislation in committee, and this Interior department decision could influence those changes.

THIS IS A VICTORY FOR ALL OF US!
We thank those of you who submitted comments to the BLM urging them to reject the request submitted by PFS for the required 30+ mile right-of-way, which would have shipped 40,000 tons of used nuclear fuel south from the Union Pacific trans-continental rail-line to the Goshute Reservation. We also sincerely appreciate all the support Shundahai Network has received throughout this process. It has been a long and difficult road, and Thursday's decision is a victory for all of us!

We will continue to keep you posted with further developments, and ask that you continue to keep the Skull Valley Band of Goshutes in your thoughts and prayers.

 

Sincerely,
The Board and Staff of Shundahai Network
www.shundahai.org
shundahai@shundahai.org
Phone- 801.533.0128
Fax- 801.533.0129
P.O. Box 1115
Salt Lake City, UT
84110


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