10 Apr Conservation group sues to block volcano-area mineral exploration
The Daily News
Apr 9, 2019
A conservation group has sued two federal agencies in an attempt to block exploratory drilling for minerals north of Mount St. Helens, saying the activity could damage recreation in the Green River Valley, the Green River itself, wild steelhead populations and the water supply of downstream communities.
Monday’s action is the second time the Cascade Forest Conservancy has sued to block exploratory drilling by a Canadian Company, Ascot Resources Ltd. The suit challenges U.S. Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service decisions to permit Ascot to drill up to 63 drill holes from 23 drill sites to locate deposits of copper, gold, and molybdenum.
The group successfully sued to block the drilling in 2014.
Forest Service spokeswoman Sue Ripp said it was not their policy to comment on lawsuits. The BLM had found that the proposed exploratory drilling would present no significant environmental impact within a 900-acre area it would occur.
The area is popular for horseback riding, camping and hunting, and, historically, was heavily used for logging and some mining.
The federal prospecting permits allow for constant drilling operations, the installation of drilling-related structures and facilities, the reconstruction of 1.69 miles of decommissioned roads, and pumping up to 5,000 gallons of groundwater per day.
The permits are for drilling only. Establishing a full-blown mine would need to go through a separate review and permitting process, but conservationists are leery of any action that is a step toward creating a mine.
“Mining activities would greatly impact the fantastic backcountry recreation opportunities within the Green River valley,” Nicole Budine, Policy and Campaign Manager for Cascade Forest Conservancy, said in a prepared statement. “Recreationists come here to experience solitude, not the constant noise, dust, and lights associated with drilling. This incredible area should be protected from mining so future generations can enjoy this unique landscape.”