Saturday, April 3, 2010

Santa Fe County Model Mining Ordinance Under Attack

A post from a Santa Fe County concerned citizen:

"We learned definitively at the last Santa Fe County Plan workshop that (unlike the oil/gas ordinance) Santa Fe County is NOT intending to carry over the mining ordinance into the new code now being drafted. They are planning to supplant and supersede it within a new category (along with junkyards, etc.) that would include mining: Developments of Countywide Impact.

BRIEF ORIGIN & HISTORY OF A MODEL MINING ORDINANCE. In the Spring of 1990, Santa Fe County received an application from the mining corporations, Pegasus Gold and LAC Minerals, to commence exploratory drilling for gold on the Lone Mountain Ranch in the Ortiz Mountains near Golden. At that time the County's regulations for such large-scale hard-rock mining were "like something out of the 19th century" and only coal mining was was regulated by state law.

A coalition of citizen groups including the San Pedro Association, Madrid Landowners' Association, San Marcos Association, Galisteo Community Association, Lamy Community Association, Sierra Club, National Audubon Society, The Wilderness Society, and NM Citizens for Clear Air and Water filed a petition with the County Commission to impose a 6 month moratorium on approvals of all mining permits pending revision of the County's regulations.

A moratorium was granted and the County developed, with the help and input from the mining industry as well, the current mining ordinance that is designed to protect the land, water, and communities from the potential abuses of hard rock mining. It wasn't long before the State followed in adopting state-wide hard-rock mining regulations. But through the years there has been repeated attempts to undermine these reasonable State regs which, like the County regs have withstood the test of time. What pressures might be now at work to undermine the County's regulations.

Here's the directive as handed out Thursday as a new addition to "keys to sustainability", Ch. 2 of the new County Plan (SLDP):

Mining and other natural resource development areas will be defined as developments of countywide impact and regulated through an overlay district mechanism.

But the Santa Fe County Attorney's Office has just released a thin and worrisome outline of what they are thinking new regulations might approve that raises alarming questions. Attached (pdf) is a draft on Developments of Countywide Impact (DCIs) with our comments. We think this writing would end up in the code, not the plan.


--citizen written input on the SLDP to County staff is preferred by Thur. April 8. Send to:
Robert Griego

--Letters for the CDRC packet needed by Thur. April 15, c/o:
Paula Sanchez

--CDRC release of the SLDP with Staff recommendations is likely April 22. I'm not yet clear if citizens will be allowed to speak.

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