THE BEAR LODGE IS IN PERIL BY A PROPOSED RARE EARTHS MINERALS PROCESSING PLANT! COMMENT DUE MARCH 31!
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) wants your input by Thursday, March 31, and it’s important that you comment. Brief comments are fine! DOE is looking for likely locations for a rare earths “demonstration” facility – in other words, a processing plant to extract rare earths minerals from ore – and associated mining. We want to explain why the Bear Lodge range in the Black Hills region is not a good location for this type of facility or mining.
What are rare earths? Rare earths are a group of minerals that have a number of uses in technology such as cell phones, batteries, and magnets. Mining and processing rare earths are very dirty, using a variety of toxic chemicals and leaving radioactive waste. A rare earths mine has been proposed north of Sundance, WY, in the western Black Hills (Bear Lodge), and the plan is to truck the ore 50 miles to Upton, WY, for processing. [See our Rare Earths Report] We want to protect the water, human health, cultural sites, and the local economy and prevent rare earths mining and processing.
The proposal on which DOE is seeking input could involve processing not only mined ore, but also trucking in mine wastes, raw acid mine drainage, and/or “other deleterious materials” (materials that harm human health, are toxic, and/or are destructive). So our task is to convince the DOE that the Black Hills region is not a good location for mining, processing, or transporting rare earths and toxic wastes.
Here are some points you might want to make – PLEASE DO NOT COPY AND PASTE THIS TEXT. OTHERWISE, THE DOE MAY SEE THIS AS A COMMENT FORM, WHICH MEANS YOUR COMMENTS DON’T COUNT. USE YOUR OWN WORDS. THANKS!
The Black Hills and the Bear Lodge area are ecologically unique and limited in size. A project like this could impact a high percentage of this unique area.
There are major Environmental Justice issues in the Black Hills, including that fact that the Lakota (Sioux) consider the entire area sacred, the presence of specific sacred sites in the immediate area, and treaty rights that have been upheld by the US Supreme Court. There is no way to ameliorate these concerns. This facility, mining, and wastes would destroy the spiritual integrity of the area.
- Note – this section may sound repetitive, but each point is something that the DOE asks for input about.
- Treaty councils, tribal governments, and tribal members’ nonprofit groups clearly represent under-served communities in the area.
- Ensuring tribal involvement in a process that could lead to a toxic processing plant and mines in the region would not resolve the Environmental Justice issues – a processing facility and its associated mines would do irreparable harm to a sacred area.
- “Meaningful” and sustained engagement will not resolve Environmental Justice issues – a processing facility and its associated mines would do irreparable harm to a sacred area.
- Disadvantaged tribal communities would not benefit from the construction and operation of a rare earths processing facility. In fact, tribal communities would suffer irreparable loss from the construction of this type of facility and associated mining.
- Tribal communities’ needs can best be addressed by not considering constructing this type of facility and associated mines in this region.
- Meaningful engagement of disadvantaged communities can only lead to one conclusion – that this facility is unwanted and should not be built in this area due to Environmental Justice issues.
People in the Black Hills don’t want new mining or toxic sites and will continue to oppose them. Our current agriculture, tourism, and outdoor recreation economy relies on clean, plentiful water and beautiful views.
Transporting toxic materials to or from a processing plant would be dangerous to people on the roads and to area residents, especially during tourism season – and in particular during the Sturgis motorcycle rally, which brings half a million motorcycle enthusiasts to the area each summer.
Bringing toxic, radioactive, acidic, and other “deleterious” materials into the area and processing them would create new and obvious negative public health hazards.
The area currently proposed as a rare earths processing site in Upton, WY, sits at the headwaters of two river systems that flow around the Black Hills and east into the Missouri River. A processing plant at or near this site could have devastating and far-reaching impacts.
Radioactivity is associated with rare earths and with some other mining wastes in the region. Transporting and processing radioactive mine wastes – or any other radioactive materials – would create new and obvious public health hazards.
Responses must be provided as attachments to an email. It is recommended that attachments with file sizes exceeding 25 MB be compressed (i.e., zipped) to ensure message delivery. Responses must be provided as a Microsoft Word (.docx) or Adobe Acrobat (.pdf) attachment to the email, and no more than 15 pages in length, 12-point font, 1-inch margins. Only electronic responses will be accepted.
REEs are sought after for use in “green” technology. Plans to mine these elements in the Bear Lodge portion of the Black Hills, and to process them in Upton, WY are not in our Best Interest. Rare earths mining and processing are dirty activities and leave radioactive wastes. More info on REEs at bhcleanwateralliance.org/rare-earths
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