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