Sonora, CA — The Central Sierra Environmental Resource Center (CSERC) has filed a lawsuit against Tuolumne County.
In January, the Tuolumne County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to deny a CSERC appeal that Blue Mountain Minerals (BMM) perform an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) before expanding their agricultural fill area by 27 acres. In turn, that vote approved the permit for the company to expand. CSERC Director John Buckley contends the county is not following state law because they did not require the company to do an EIR. Buckley also claims the county has not followed state requirements for restoring the land. The County Counsel’s office firmly disagreed with the accusation.
Blue Mountain Minerals CEO Jeff Redoutey had this reaction. “It’s disappointing (lawsuit), not good for the county and totally unwarranted. The county chose the process very carefully. We followed the process, and we are very confident that process and the approval for our permit was to state law.”
Tuolumne County Board of Supervisors Chair Evan Royce laughed at the lawsuit saying “surprise, surprise”. He denies the county is not following state law and says, if anything, the county counsel took a conservative view when reviewing the project. “We have unanimous decisions from the planning commission and the board of supervisors that say that all the findings were accurate. That they followed the laws and the impacts are being mitigated. Nothing’s being short cut here. Nothing is being abused,” said Royce.
Buckley argues even with that review, they are continuing the lawsuit because of the significant impact to the land. He says one alternative would be for BMM to put the waste on land that has already been mined. Redoutey counters all of the areas in the mine are currently active. He says, “Mr. Buckley does not understand our mining process. We do not have enough space to put mine waste.”
This is the second time CSERC has sued the county in regards to Blue Mountain Minerals. The first lawsuit was in 2005 and had to do with a county approved permit. In that case, CSERC’s appeal was dismissed. Redoutey says that lawsuit costs the company “well into six figures” and argues this lawsuit adds unnecessary costs for the company as well. Redoutey says the company is looking at all its options at this time and no decision has been made on whether to fight the lawsuit.