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Gravel mining company reacts to lawsuit

Two important developments today on the gravel mining lawsuit I reported on yesterday.

First, Freeman Rock - one of the three companies waiting to mine gravel from southern Oregon’s Chetco River - has released a response to the Northwest Environmental Defense Center’s lawsuit over the federal mining permitting process.

The company said the lawsuit “is expected to again delay” the Chetco mining operation, and that it “does not agree with NEDC” that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers violated federal committee laws in holding meetings with industry reps.

Second, Oregon Department of Environmental Quality certified that the mining proposals meet Clean Water Act and state water quality standards. The DEQ approval was one of the last ones needed before mining operations could begin.

However, Alex Liverman at DEQ said the environmental defense center lawsuit could still stall the operation, depending on how the court responds to the group’s request to stop the mining until permitting flaws are addressed.

A statement released from Freeman Rock explained that three companies submitted their application for a five-year mining permit in 2006 and were granted a temporary permit to remove a limited amount of sand and gravel from the Chetco in 2007 and 2008 while a study of gravel volume in the river was completed.

The study was supposed to be finished in February 2009, the company reports, but it was four months late, and the three companies were left without permits to remove gravel in 2009.

“Freeman Rock hopes that the Corps and the (National Marine Fisheries Service) will strengthen their position and will issue a removal permit that will stabilize a consistent five-year supply of Chetco aggregate to support the maintenance and improvement of our local communities and transportation system.”

Chetco River Mining

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