Last updated on 2013.01.28
Here is the most impressive part of the Lawrence County Commission's decision yesterday to delay its approval of the Deadwood Standard Project:
The Lawrence County Commission is made up of five Republicans. Wealthy businessmen, including tourism icon and DSP partner Ted Hustead, told these commissioners that building this gold mine just over the rim of Spearfish Canyon is a matter of jobs, high wages, and economic development over the "ludicrous" (Hustead's word) objections of a very small minority of Spearfish Canyon homeowners. Proponents spoke from a position of strength, advocating an industry with a deep and cherished history in Lawrence County.
And those five Republicans said... not yet. Commissioner Daryl Johnson validated the environmentalists' Precautionary Principle, saying that if he had to make a final decision right now, he'd vote not to allow the mine, because the Deadwood Standard Project has not met its burden to prove the mine will not harm Spearfish Canyon. When the company reps pushed for a decision timeline so they could assure their investors, the commissioners dug in, saying they would decide when they felt they had enough information, not according to some arbitrary or rushed timeline.
The Lawrence County Commission made two formal decisions yesterday. First, it officially waived, per DSP's request, its own statutory requirement to act on any conditional use permit application within 45 days. Then it officially said that it would not make a final decision on the application until the state Department of Environment and Natural Resources has studied the project and issued its report and recommendation... which DENR's Mike Cepak told the commissioners would likely take fourteen months.
Lawrence County Commissioners made a really hard choice between immediate economic gain and environmental protection... or maybe they didn't. At the beginning of the meeting, the commission indicated that, since last July's meeting on the mine, they had received 19 letters in support of the Spearfish Canyon mine and 243 against.
So maybe, technically, yesterday's vote wasn't really a great blow for environmentalism over the GOP economy-über-alles mindset. Maybe it was just five elected officials doing what the people want.
That's still a victory. Nice work, fellas.
Update 09:05 MDT: Here's Derek Olson's KELO report. Watch for the handsome blogger in the green shirt! ;-)