Coalition launches campaign to block Reno cat litter mine
RENO, Nev. (AP) – Opponents of a proposed cat-litter mine north of Reno are launching a campaign to stir public outcry, hoping local officials stop what the federal government says it can’t.
Citizens for Safe and Healthy Neighborhoods held a news conference Tuesday outside Washoe County administrative offices to unveil mailers and radio commercials urging residents to oppose Oil-Dri Corp.’s plans for an open pit clay mine and a processing plant in Hungry Valley, a growing residential area 10 miles north of Reno.
Members of the coalition of environmentalists, community activists, volunteers and American Indians are hoping the Washoe County Commission will block the operation that the U.S. Bureau of Land Management suggests is permissible under the 1872 Mining Act.
”The bottom line is that our local Washoe County officials have the power to make sure Oil-Dri doesn’t turn Reno-Sparks into a litter box,” said Bob Fulkerson of the Progressive Leadership Alliance.
Oil-Dri, based in Chicago, is the world’s largest maker of cat litter.
Company officials say the project would be as environmentally friendly as possible.
”We really do want to be a good neighbor. We have no intention of coming in and trying to alienate people,” said Craig Paisley, manager of the Reno plant, which is expected to employ up to 100 workers.
”The biggest hurdle we have is convincing people we are a good company, we manufacture a premium product and we are offering some tremendous jobs,” Paisley said.
In a draft environmental impact statement released earlier this year, the BLM said its authority ”is not to decide if mining should be allowed, but to regulate how activities already authorized … are to be conducted.”
A final environmental statement and decision are pending. The company has said it will make changes recommended by the BLM to reduce dust and route traffic away from a school.
But opponents said it will be up to Washoe County commissioners to decide whether the operation is appropriate and if any conditions should be imposed.
Four Democratic state legislators – Sen. Bernice Martin Matthews, Assemblyman Bernie Anderson, Assemblywoman Sheila Leslie and Assemblywoman Debbie Smith – also urged the commission to deny the project’s permits.
”Both law and precedent give the Washoe County Commission the authority and responsibility to decide whether the Oil-Dri project proceeds,” the lawmakers said in an Aug. 24 letter to the commission.
”It is our hope that you will agree with us that Hungry Valley is a clearly inappropriate site for this kind of mining and industrial development, and will use your authority to prevent this project from moving forward.”
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