Court voids Rock Creek mine permit - Bonner County Daily Bee: Local News

default avatar
Welcome to the site! Login or Signup below.
Not you?||
Logout|My Dashboard

Court voids Rock Creek mine permit

Font Size:
Default font size
Larger font size

Posted: Wednesday, October 31, 2012 10:00 am

SANDPOINT — The Montana Supreme Court is requiring a more rigorous permitting process for improving a road leading to the proposed site of the Rock Creek Mine.

The state’s high court ruled 4-2 on Monday to uphold a district court’s ruling that voided a construction permit for the road work.

The Sandpoint-based Rock Creek Alliance, along with the Clark Fork Coalition, Earthworks and Trout Unlimited, sued the Montana Department of Environmental Quality over the permit’s issuance and mine developer Revett Minerals intervened.

The environmental and conservation groups argued that the permit to approve stormwater runoff violated Montana water quality laws because Rock Creek is of unique ecological significance as it relates to threatened bull trout.

The project’s final environmental impact statement identifies the creek’s population as an “essential stock for conservation purposes” and the stronger of only two stocks in the Lower Clark Fork River considered to be robust enough to stave off risk of extinction.

Fine sediment already impairs the creek and clogs the spaces between the gravel and cobble needed by incubating bull trout eggs and fry.

First District Judge Kathy Seeley ruled in favor of the plaintiffs and Revett appealed.

But a majority of the higher court upheld Seeley’s ruling.

“The risk of extirpation of a unique population of already at-risk bull trout further justifies the finding that Rock Creek is an area of unique ecological significance,” Justice Mike Wheat wrote in the 23-page opinion.

Justices Mike McGrath, James Nelson and Brian Morris concurred, but Justices Jim Rice and Patricia Cotter dissented.

Rice contended the road improvements would ultimately curb the amount of sediment making its way into the creek and said fellow justices placed too much reliance on a limited aspect of the record and ignored a vast amount of evidence available to DEQ.

“It is not the duty of this Court to second guess the agency about the record or to substitute its judgment for the agency,” wrote Rice.

Revett CEO John Shanahan was unfazed by the supreme court’s decision. He said Revett is already working with DEQ on a Montana Pollution Discharge Elimination System permit, a more stringent process than the construction permit.

“The reality is we are well under way in the MPDES permit anyway,” said Shanahan. “We had already gone down that route anyhow, so it doesn’t really change things for us.”

Jim Costello of the Rock Creek Alliance called the supreme court’s ruling a “huge win” that underscores the importance of Rock Creek’s bull trout population.

Costello said the ruling stood in stark contrast to a U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling, which upheld U.S. Fish & Wildlife determinations that the Rock Creek Mine would not jeopardize bull trout or grizzly bear.

Costello said the 9th Circuit “blindly deferred” to the federal agency.

“The Montana Supreme Court did their homework. They did their research and I think that’s why we got this decision. Their decision was based on science,” said Costello. “I’m not sure what the 9th Circuit’s decision was based on.”

More about

More about

More about

  • Discuss

Welcome to the discussion.


  • wilson posted at 9:10 pm on Sat, Nov 3, 2012.

    wilson Posts: 1096

    Trying to protect the environment while reducing quality of life for inhabitants of the earth needs a little balance - but common sense and the wisdom to know what can be done in a practical way needs to be considered - Look at the East coast - those people have been regulated to death and not even able to dig in their yards for fear of polluting something - then Mother Nature shows them who is boss - oil and sand everywhere - sewage all over - etc - All that worrying for nothing! My O My -- wouldn't the local waterkeepers go nuts -

  • Corey Greve posted at 5:03 pm on Sat, Nov 3, 2012.

    Corey Greve Posts: 937

    Reddawn, do you know where the materials come from that allow you to post on this blog?

  • wilson posted at 8:58 pm on Fri, Nov 2, 2012.

    wilson Posts: 1096

    Trout Creek - It would have been approved years ago if all the obstructionists had not interfered - remember, every time you exhale, YOU are damaging the environment - whatcha gonna do about that, eh ??

  • reddawn posted at 10:27 am on Fri, Nov 2, 2012.

    reddawn Posts: 1846

    How any human would not see that the Rock Creek Mine would not damage our water quality is either way to old, or cares nothing for our future for this planet and our children. JOBs we can sure tell who never went to any of the meetings. A hand full of jobs for Bonner, a hand full, in return it will destroy our most important falue, WATER. Do your home work on CDA lake , animals die drinking the water. Have for years. Dont eat the fish either. And the Cabinets are a huge earth quake fault area, We , most of us have spent years against this mine. then alot of outsiders and big Candian money came in to polute our water. Corey what a foolish question, man goes where money is god, not people or animals, where man has no freedom to fight for himself or the land.Some of you are so closed minded and blind I thank god you dont run things, get educated you sound so backwards and blind. Oh I forgot your Romney lovers, money is your god under any human price and to this planet. Good job Rock Creek Alliance, thanks for not giving up.. Years of the fight, please continue, I have great respect for all of those who still keep fighting for our water and our planet!!

  • Corey Greve posted at 8:08 pm on Thu, Nov 1, 2012.

    Corey Greve Posts: 937

    I wonder if any species are endangered by the mines in India, China, Africa, Brazil ,etc. that produce much of the precious metals and toxic substances that are used to create things that we all use to make our everyday lives more simple and comfortable? Why don't we seem to care about those critters, or the waterways in which they live?

  • friend to all posted at 12:18 pm on Thu, Nov 1, 2012.

    friend to all Posts: 39

    i will choose jobs everytime over ecosystems everyday. every city, road, mine, building, everything man made has destroyed some sort of ecosystem. it might even killed a few ants. even disneyland was built on a swamp. or what they call "wet lands" now. yeah, i choose jobs. And its spelled constitutionalist. To many 'i's" but that is what its all about isnt it. You you you. [beam]

  • Trout Creek posted at 11:58 am on Thu, Nov 1, 2012.

    Trout Creek Posts: 3

    Good jobs in exchange for what, a polluted lake, a damaged ecosystem? If the proposed mine would in fact protect the regional environment it would have been operating years ago. The courts see the problem with the project, but maybe you pseudo-constititionalists would like to abolish the judicial branch of government.

  • friend to all posted at 9:47 am on Thu, Nov 1, 2012.

    friend to all Posts: 39

    Yeah, good job Rock Creek Alliance. This area is in need of some good paying jobs. Way to stand in the way of jobs you liberal morons. Bob, thought you were about growing the economy, You should be for the creation of all these jobs. Or does it not fit you pretty little liberal picture. You would prob be for casinos, stripe clubs and adult shops. They produce jobs and its right up your alley of what your for. Maybe even a huge murder machine like planned parenthood would work here too. But oh no, cant mine because it moves precious rocks.[sad]

  • Trout Creek posted at 6:37 am on Thu, Nov 1, 2012.

    Trout Creek Posts: 3

    What Revett fails to understand is that the permitting process will now have to consider the high courts ruling on sediment which will make it tough. Failure to do so will just send the permitting right back to the courts.

  • Ralph posted at 3:00 am on Thu, Nov 1, 2012.

    Ralph Posts: 77

    The natural evolvement of the earth does not include digging up toxic materials buried deep in the earth and depositing them in our water courses. Talk about morons.

  • wilson posted at 11:20 pm on Wed, Oct 31, 2012.

    wilson Posts: 1096

    Sediment and sand has always been a part of streams - can't stop it -it can be controlled by mining -

  • Bob Wynhausen posted at 4:49 pm on Wed, Oct 31, 2012.

    Bob Wynhausen Posts: 9913

    Since when is mining "natural evolvement"?

    Good work Rock Creek Alliance!

  • wilson posted at 4:33 pm on Wed, Oct 31, 2012.

    wilson Posts: 1096

    These Judicial morons think they can stop the natural evolvement of the Earth - with such small minds, we are in deep too-doo !