Contacts: Don Fife (714) 544-8406 Fax: (714) 731-3745 e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org;
Box 1054, Tustin, CA 92781-1054 or Ray B. Hunter (209) 951-0621
Spokane, Washington. Mark Rey, Department of Agriculture Undersecretary for the Environment and Minerals, in a speech before the Northwest Mining Association said that the policy of the Forest Service would be more pro-active toward domestic exploration and the orderly development of energy and mineral resources on National Forest lands. Rey also stated that existing environmental regulations would be strictly applied to the orderly development of mineral resources.
When asked if minerals would be given equal importance with other National Forest resources as under the previous Reagan-Bush Administration, he replied, "That is to be the policy of this administration."
Rey went on to acknowledge that President Bush's Executive Order no. 13212 to all federal agencies to expedite energy related projects included production of minerals and filler extenders such as high-grade limestone on National Forest Lands that conserve petroleum. Limestone makes up 50% of all vehicle tires, replacing millions of barrels of crude oil, which would otherwise need to be imported for the production of rubber.
Calcite, the mineral that makes up 95% or more of high-grade limestone, is calcium carbonate, the same compound that makes up the common antacid "Tums." It is used as a filler extender in paints, plastics, putties, and PVC replacing 40 to 80% of the resin feed stocks that are derived from crude oil.
Ray Hunter, Executive Director of the National Association of Mining Districts (NAMD), criticized the Clinton Administration's Forest Service policies as obstructionist and anti-multiple use. Hunter said, "Massive Forest Service road closures and endless delays in the permitting process have driven billions of dollars of exploration and development funds overseas, destroying western U.S. resource providers and closing access to recreationists and the public."
Hunter continued, "It takes access to vast areas to search
for mineral and energy resources, but extremely small areas to
extract those anomalies that are economic mineral deposits. Due
to these facts, exploration is compatible with wilderness; but
wilderness as currently defined
is totally incompatible with exploration because you are forbidden to search."
Don Fife, Chairman of NAMD, quotes Vince McKelvey, former Director of the U.S. Geological Survey, "Appraising mineral resources is an emerging science. A final once and for all 'inventory' of any mineral resource is Nonsense [Sic.]. Mineral deposits are exhausted, unknown deposits are discovered, new extractive technologies and new uses are developed and new geologic knowledge indicates new areas and new environments are favorable for mineral exploration."
Fife, said, "According to Homestake Mining Company's statistics from over 100 years of exploration, it takes the serious evaluation of 5,000 mining claims to find a single valuable mine.
By contrast, the U.S. Geological Survey estimates it takes 100 wildcat petroleum exploration wells to find new oil or gas discovery on shore in North America."
Fife stated, "It should be noted that there is a fundamental difference between exploration and mining. Exploration is not mining, and there is no positive cash flow, there are only expended funds and little or no long term impact on the environment. Mining is production and should be generating funds that can supply a profit that creates jobs and tax base as well as funds for mitigation and reclamation."
Hunter criticized the San Bernardino National Forest (SBNF) in southern California for trying to turn the largest high-grade limestone province in the western U.S.A. into a 44,575-acre weed and toad sanctuary, depriving the West of its largest source of cement and filler extender grade limestone. This province generates more than a billion dollars in new wealth per year and creates thousands of jobs in the region.
Riverside Cement Company's Partin Limestone Mine near Lucerne Valley, California was forced out of business and turned into part of SBNF Supervisor Gene Zimmerman's weed and toad sanctuary in the mid-1990's. The weeds were ESA listed under the false assumption that they grow only on limestone or carbonate rock and only in the San Bernardino Mountains, where they are supposed to be genetically isolated. However, the scientific literature reports that some of these invasive plants (weeds) including oval leaf buckwheat, Eriogonum ovalifolium var. vineum are spread up and down the Pacific Coast and Rocky Mountain flyways where several species of birds continually intermix genetic seed stocks from Canada to Mexico.
The SBNF is well aware that most or all of these plants grow on granitic and other granular soils. These plants are weeds that depend on soil disturbance and wildland fire for habitat expansion, but SBNF and USFWS botanists totally ignore this fact. One species, Astragalus albens, is a poisonous noxious locoweed that farmers, ranchers and state and federal agriculture agencies have been trying to eradicate for years. It is even against local and state law or regulations to knowingly propagate it on one's property, and now it is a federally listed endangered species!
A SBNF botanist, who was recently videotaped planting native
vegetation to block an existing
limestone mine access road, confided, "Everyone knows the plants aren't really endangered. We just need them to stop mining." This botanist was unaware he was talking to the mine owner who was accompanied by Buster Lamoure, former Chief of Land and Minerals for the U.S. Forest Service!
Hunter, states, "The Lucerne Valley limestone Province is the equivalent of a giant oil field in its potential to conserve petroleum. Despite the environmental benefit, radical environmentalists and Forest Supervisor Zimmerman have been abusing federal laws such as the National Environmental Policy Act and the Endangered Species Act to destroy the Calcite Limestone industry. Ted Kaczynski and Usama bin Laden may as well have recruited these bureaucrats to destroy the industrial mineral base of the region."
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