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The Boise River Near Parkcenter Blvd.

Boise Mayor Opposes Atlanta Mine, Calls for City Council Support

Boise Mayor David Bieter today said he opposes a proposed cyanide heap leach gold mining operation near the headwaters of the Boise River and asked the Boise City Council to pass a formal resolution against the mine.

Atlanta Gold Corporation Inc., a Canadian-owned subsidiary, has proposed construction of an open-pit mine and cyanide heap leach facility near the town of Atlanta in Elmore County, about 60 miles northeast of Boise. Mining supplies, including sodium cyanide, blasting agents and up to 8.5 million gallons of diesel fuel, would be transported to the mine site on a series of unpaved roads that parallel the Boise River.

Mayor Bieter said that more than two years of studying the proposal led him to conclude that the mining company’s plans for protecting the environment are grossly inadequate, given the enormity of the threat. Despite the mining company’s assertions to the contrary, open pit cyanide heap leach mining has an abysmal environmental record not only in the western United States but around the world, the mayor said.

The Boise Fire Department’s Hazardous Materials Team serves as the principal responder to fuel and chemical spills and situations involving dangerous materials throughout Southwest Idaho. Mayor Bieter said he does not believe Boise residents should be forced to foot the bill in case of an accident involving the mine.

“This river is an irreplaceable part of this city. It’s where we fish; it’s where we float; it’s where our eagles and herons nest; more and more, it’s where we get our drinking water,” the mayor said. “I have concluded that the Atlanta Gold project is simply a terrible idea.”

The mayor’s proposed resolution, which will be considered by the Boise City Council on March 6, would place the council formally on record as strongly opposing the development of the cyanide heap leach mining operation near Atlanta. The resolution also calls upon the U.S. Forest Service and the State of Idaho to hold the Atlanta Gold project to the highest operational, financial, transportation and environmental standards allowed by law; and urges other Southwest Idaho local governments to go on record in opposition to the mine.

The City of Boise has no regulatory authority over the mine proposal, which is currently under review by the U.S. Forest Service and Idaho state agencies. But city officials have received more than 2,000 letters, postcards and petitions from interested citizens, almost all opposed to the mine.

Boise has achieved “Clean Cities” designation by the U.S. Department of Energy for encouraging use of alternative fuels.

In 2006, Boise became the first city in Idaho to sign the U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement to limit greenhouse emissions.

About Jill Kuraitis

Jill Kuraitis is an award-winning journalist who specializes in news of Idaho and the Rocky Mountain West. Her B.A. in theatre management is from UC Santa Barbara, and she went on to work in theatre, film, and politics before writing became a career. Kuraitis has two excellent grown children and lives in Boise with her husband of 30 years, abundant backyard wildlife, and two huge hairy dogs.

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