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Cantwell decries exploration near Mount St. Helens

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By Dylan Brown, E&E Reporter

[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height=”35px”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row row_type=”row” use_row_as_full_screen_section=”no” type=”full_width” angled_section=”no” text_align=”left” background_image_as_pattern=”without_pattern” css_animation=””][vc_column][vc_single_image image=”94″ img_size=”full” alignment=”center” qode_css_animation=””][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row row_type=”row” use_row_as_full_screen_section=”no” type=”grid” angled_section=”no” text_align=”left” background_image_as_pattern=”without_pattern” css_animation=””][vc_column][vc_separator type=”normal” color=”#444444″ thickness=”3″][vc_empty_space height=”75px”][vc_column_text]Democratic Sen. Maria Cantwell urged the Forest Service to block the so-called Goat Mountain project in her home state of Washington yesterday, the same day as the agency closed a second comment period on proposed mineral exploration in the shadow of Mount St. Helens.
The ranking member on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee voiced her objections to Ascot Resources Ltd.’s proposal to explore for copper, gold, molybdenum and silver in the Green River Valley next door to Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument in a letter to Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell.
Tidwell’s agency has been at the center of a yearslong dispute between the Vancouver, British Columbia-based company and environmental and recreation groups.
Cantwell and fellow Washington Democratic Sen. Patty Murray have joined opponents, who are concerned that mining could destroy wildlife and tourism in the popular recreation destination (E&ENews PMFeb. 5).
The Gifford Pinchot Task Force, a conservation group dedicated to blocking the mine, won a federal court decision in 2013 that found deficiencies in the environmental assessment, but Ascot made good on its promise to file an updated permitting application late last year.
The federal government purchased the lands in the Green River Valley in 1986 using dollars from the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which puts the Bureau of Land Management in charge of permitting. Still, the Forest Service maintains a right to block development interfering with conservation and recreation.
“The commercial extraction of non-renewable natural resources seems completely at odds with the core principle of the Land Water Conservation Fund,” Cantwell wrote.
Cantwell raised concerns about mining’s impact on the Green River, a municipal drinking water source that advocates say is eligible for a National Wild and Scenic River designation. The state of Washington formally considers the river a wild steelhead gene bank for its concentration of endangered and threatened salmon.
“Condoning exploratory drilling and hardrock mining on LWCF-acquired lands would set a terrible precedent and jeopardize national treasures that were offered to the Forest Service by willing sellers so that land could be conserved and enjoyed by the public,” Cantwell told Tidwell.
Mining companies have said modern extraction practices can coexist with natural resources in sensitive areas. Ascot has also touted potential economic development.[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height=”35px”][vc_row_inner row_type=”row” type=”grid” text_align=”left” css_animation=””][vc_column_inner][vc_gallery interval=”0″ images=”164,161,145″ img_size=”full” onclick=””][/vc_column_inner][/vc_row_inner][vc_empty_space height=”75px”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row row_type=”row” use_row_as_full_screen_section=”yes” type=”grid” angled_section=”no” text_align=”left” background_image_as_pattern=”without_pattern” css_animation=”” css=”.vc_custom_1465592094531{background-color: #96d1ae !important;}”][vc_column][vc_row_inner row_type=”row” type=”grid” text_align=”left” css_animation=””][vc_column_inner][vc_empty_space height=”125px”][latest_post_two number_of_columns=”3″ order_by=”date” order=”ASC” display_featured_images=”yes” number_of_posts=”3″][vc_empty_space height=”75px”][/vc_column_inner][/vc_row_inner][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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