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TC Business Council Supports BMM

The Tuolumne County Business Council supports County approval of Blue Mountain Minerals proposed 27± acre expansion of their 48 acre approved agricultural fill area, within the 309 acre existing permit area, for a carbonate rock quarry at 24599 Marble Quarry Road in Tuolumne County, California. The expansion is needed to maximize their use of mined rock in compliance with the Surface Mine and Reclamation Act as mandated by both the State of California and Tuolumne County.

The Blue Mountain Minerals EIR demonstrates that the expanded agricultural fill area is consistent with the previously approved Mitigated Negative Declaration by the County. The EIR also shows that only two of the extensive environmental issues required to be studied through the EIR were ever at a level of potential significance (Biological and Cultural Resources). As with the Mitigated Negative Declaration, proposed mitigation in the EIR reduces these elements to a less than significant level. The EIR also quantifies why the proposed expanded fill area is a preferred option over the other project alternatives.

It is unfortunate that the County-approved Mitigated Negative Declaration was litigated and that the well-intended California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) has become a legal tool that economically forces the withdrawl of viable approvals. The previously approved Mitigated Negative Declaration that required careful study, planning, community input and design, is supposedly an approved method of project review under CEQA and was an appropriate environmental review for the 27 acre expansion of the mine agricultural fill area. Review of the current EIR shows that the designated mitigation is not substantially different from what was previously proposed and approved by the County under a CEQA Mitigated Negative Declaration. Based on our review of the project a full EIR should not have been necessary and required a great deal of additional time and effort by Blue Mountain Minerals as well as significant cost that could have been better spent operating their business for the betterment of our local economy. The time and expense of the current EIR document is another example of why change is needed in the CEQA process to allow for appropriate levels of analysis and mitigation without enabling legal challenges, with no liability, to derail the CEQA process as originally intended.

The Tuolumne County Business Council urges the Tuolumne County Board of Supervisors to approve the preferred 27± acre expansion of their 48 acre agricultural fill area as detailed and mitigated in the Blue Mountan Minerals EIR.

Written by Darrell Slocum – Tuolumne County Business Council