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Speaking Out | The Civil Exchange

Publish Date: 7/14/2009

Significant progress made

Last week, the Planning Commission voted to reject the protective amendments to the County’s Master Plan that were submitted by the Tallahassee Area Community.

Although we, a voluntary association of residents and property owners in Northwest Fremont County, are disappointed, we are not discouraged and believe that we have made significant progress. We consider this as merely a first step in a long process.

Look at the actual results:

— Tom Piltingsrud, the commission chairman, called our efforts “historic” as the first ever citizen initiated proposed amendment to the Master Plan.

— We argued persuasively that the county has substantially more authority over land use control decisions than heretofore believed by the county attorney. The Commission now understands that it must resolve the underlying legal issue before proceeding with its decision-making on mine site location issues.

— The commission now accepts the concept that there are major differences between uranium (and other hard rock metal) mining and other, more benign mining operations, such as sand & gravel, gypsum, etc., and that there must be different standards of review for each.

— There was no testimony — either oral or written — presented to the commission that disputed our basic premise that uranium mining is a hazardous activity that has the potential for serious adverse health and safety and environmental impacts beyond the actual mine site onto the surrounding land for an extended time period after active mining is over.

— The commission stated its intent to deal with this issue promptly and solicit continued public input.

The Planning Commission already has begun the process of rewriting the 2001 Master Plan. Our proposed amendment went far beyond merely dealing with uranium. We suggested numerous changes that would add more careful consideration of health and safety issues associated with any proposed new project across the county. We believe that the county must be more protective of its residents when a project has the potential of creating a hazardous impact.

The standard that we are proposing is that of “The Precautionary Principle,” a thoughtful statement created by an international panel of scientists, scholars, politicians and others, that the New York Times called “one of the most influential statements of 2001.”

The statement says: “When an activity raises threats of harm to human health or the environment, precautionary measures should be taken even if some cause and effect relationships are not fully established scientifically.

“In this context, the proponent of an activity, rather than the public, should bear the burden of proof. The process of applying the precautionary principle must be open, informed and democratic and must include potentially affected parties. It must also involve an examination of the full range of alternatives, including no action.”

We believe that if the Planning Commission would embrace this concept and provide such guidance to the Board of County Commissioners for the development of regulations, Fremont County would be an even more attractive place for residents, visitors, and business. The “quality of life” would be enhanced, while reasonable economic growth would not be impaired.

To correct a serious misunderstanding of TAC’s position, I state categorically that we never proposed a “ban on mining,” either in the Mountain District or across the county.

Further, we have not even proposed a ban on uranium mining. Our major concern, and what we have proposed, is that uranium mining not take place so close to where people live that an unavoidable hazardous situation can seriously impact our health and safety and destroy the environment that we love.

This Week's Editorials 

Publish Date: 7/14/2009
Significant progress made

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Publish Date: 7/13/2009
Social Security numbers too easy to use against us
A new report gives Americans even more reason to be apprehensive about the security of their Social Security numbers.
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Publish Date: 7/10/2009
Spirit Of America
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Publish Date: 7/9/2009
Generation gap revealed by study
According to a survey called the Pew Social and Demographic Trends Project, there is a growing generation gap in America.
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Publish Date: 7/8/2009
U.S. Congress should review civil rights laws
The laws that came out of the fight for civil rights in the United States have left an indelible mark on the country.
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Publish Date: 7/4/2009
Ongoing Budget Struggles
Undoubtedly, you’ve read or heard about Fremont County’s current budget problems and the steps being taken by the Board of County Commissioners to help meet a balanced 2009 budget.
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Publish Date: 7/3/2009
Explosive Memories
The Fourth of July holds a special place in my heart. A very weird one, perhaps, but special nonetheless.
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