BIG BEAR MOUNTAIN UNDER ATTACK BY MINING INTERESTS YET AGAIN!

Oct. 19, 2021, 7:52 p.m.

(Apologies for the length of this article, but it’s very important, so please with it to the end, and send the message we include to DNR and Skagit County officials.)

Big mining and jetty companies are back seeking sneaky-quick approval of a mining permit at Big Bear Mountain even though Dept. of Natural Resources acknowledges “the likely presence of asbestos throughout the entire site proposed for mining” with “the potential to impact the environment and public health and safety.”  Which is exactly why DNR withdrew the last application!  But recent public document requests by the Skagit River Alliance reveal DNR plans to move ahead with the same rejected plan, and the same potential to release asbestos into the environment that got the previous application rejected!  These documents further show that (keep reading here for the scary details):

• DNR wants Skagit County to sign-off on operations and impacts without seeking new information about mitigating release of asbestos into the environment and our lungs.

• State Senator Keith Wagoner is pressuring DNR to issue a new mining permit with seemingly little regard for either State/County regulations or an open review and permitting process.  (We know this because his letter is one of the public documents produced.)

• DNR once more is an advocate and agent for big mining and not a public agency looking out for all interests.

• Skagit Planning and Development Services appears willing to simply sign-off without further details or review, relying on a 45-year-old permit for a very different operation than what is now proposed, while ignoring significant changes in the surrounding environment since then.

This is not how the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) process is designed to work.  Skagit County must be the SEPA lead agency.  Only Skagit has the ability to review onsite and offsite operations and impacts and issue necessary County permits.  The County must not abdicate this crucial role because DNR has no authority to do the County’s job.  SEPA must be followed!

Now is an extremely important time for you to let county and state officials know how mining asbestos-laden rock in Marblemount concerns you.  It is equally important to let Skagit County and DNR officials know that you expect them to follow the permit review process in a fair, open, and transparent manner without influence from political or business pressure.

Please email and call the officials listed below. Here is a suggested email template (feel free to modify if you like):

I am very concerned that Dept. of Natural Resources is trying to take over the mine permitting process yet again for the Big Bear Mountain site, despite not having jurisdiction, and having previously acknowledged during the applicant’s last failed permitting attempt, “the likely presence of asbestos throughout the entire site proposed for mining” with “the potential to impact the environment and public health and safety.”  This is exactly why DNR withdrew that last application!  But recent public document requests reveal DNR plans to move ahead with the same rejected plan, and the same potential to release asbestos into the environment that got the previous application rejected!  These documents also show that:

• DNR wants Skagit County to sign-off on operations and impacts without seeking new information about mitigating release of asbestos into the environment and our lungs.

• State Senator Keith Wagoner is pressuring DNR for a new mining permit with no apparent awareness of either State or County regulations, or an open review and permitting process.

• DNR appears to be more an advocate and agent for mining interests and not a public agency looking out for all interests.

• Skagit Planning and Development Services appears willing to simply sign-off without further details or review, relying on a 45-year-old permit for a very different operation than what is now proposed, while ignoring significant changes in the surrounding environment since then.

Review of operations by Skagit County is demanded because mitigation of asbestos dust, noise, and traffic is under their purview, not DNR.  Carefully considered mitigation measures and enforcement are critical to assuring safe, fair, and reasonable conditions for county residents, the general public, and the County environment.  And this entire process should be out in the open, not hidden away in documents only provided in response to public document requests.  Both Skagit County and DNR must provide regular updates and publish all related documents on their respective websites.

If you wish to email all relevant officials at once, you can copy and paste the following addresses into your email.  Even though outrage is warranted, these officials can hear your concerns better if you remain civil and not engage in name-calling.  Also, write as an individual, not as a member of Sierra Club or any other organization.  Not only has Mt. Baker Group, Skagit River Alliance and many other environmental groups already written DNR and the County demanding that this mess be straightened out, but these agencies need to see that regular, ordinary people are also outraged, not just the “tree-hugger” organizations.

Casey R. Hanell [email protected]

Rian Skov [email protected]

Hilary Franz [email protected]

Carlo Davis [email protected]

Lenny Young [email protected]

Tom Bugert [email protected]

Glenda Breiler [email protected]

Ana Shafer [email protected]

Nicole Damer [email protected]

Katelynn Piazza [email protected]

Sen. Keith Wagoner [email protected]

Hal Hart [email protected]

Tawnee Clearbrook [email protected]

Lisa Janicki [email protected]

Ron Wesen [email protected]

Peter Browning [email protected]

Thank you so much for your help with this!  Feel free to enlist the aid of others in sending emails.