David Watkinson, President and CEO of Emgold Corporation, recently sent a letter to Tom Last, City of Grass Valley Planning Director, in which he said that “we would like to confirm that our permit application is still active and ongoing and request that the City continue to treat it as active unless notified otherwise by IMMC.” That’s a straightforward and — we suppose — routine request.
But some statements Mr. Watkinson made further into the body of the letter, regarding the still uncorrected deficiencies in the original DEIR (Draft Environmental Impact Report) for the Idaho-Maryland Mine are puzzling in the extreme, since they contradict the Grass Valley City Council statements of August 25th, 2009, as well as Mr. Watkinson’s own statements of the same date.
Here’s the puzzling passage in David Watkinson’s recent letter (dated September 15, 2010, obtained by us on October 21st):
The City has indeed not deemed that the Draft EIR is officially inadequate, the City has not decided that a new Draft EIR is required , and the City has not determined that changes to the project description are required from the applicant. The City has in fact not determined that the DEIR needs any revisions, let alone major revisions.
Compare that statement to his own comments to the members of the City Council during their meeting of August 25, 2009 (from my verbatim transcript of the relevant portion of that meeting):
DAVID WATKINSON: “We are looking at doing a revised EIR. That doesn’t mean necessarily that we are completing a whole new EIR. But there are certain sections that will get updated as we go through the process of doing a revision. It will go through a public process again. There are things that drive recirculation in a CEQA process. So, depending on the changes that we finalize when we submit to the city, we’ll sit down with the city and determine – based on the CEQA law – what will drive recirculation and that decision will be made. It is our thought at this point in time that we probably will have to have a revision and we’re preparing for that …“
Following Mr. Watkinson’s remarks, Mike Pasner, a farmer in Penn Valley who relies on downstream water from Wolf Creek, came to the podium and asked for a clarification of Mr. Watkinson’s remarks concerning the recirculation issue (see video excerpt below).
LISA SWARTHOUT: “It’s not up to Dave. It’s up to us. It’s up to the city to determine if it’s recirculated or not.
MIKE PASNER: “So when you see this new … “
LISA SWARTHOUT: “Yes. It will be recirculated.
MIKE PASNER: “If there’s a revised EIR, it will be recirculated?”
LISA SWARTHOUT: “Yes.”
[Mike exits the podium]
LISA SWARTHOUT: “And I think Joe [Heckel] stated pretty clearly that … there’s going to be a revised EIR.”
COUNSEL: “Yes … a new draft EIR with – from what we’ve heard – at least some changes which may be substantial. And that would require new circulation, new comment period, etc.”
JOE HECKEL: “There are changes to the project design, and there are also additional studies that would be driven by the changes. Those will all have to be folded into the EIR document … for a full review.”
Copious public commentary documented the many serious deficiencies in the original DEIR. The city has never accepted it as adequate. And — as the comments above show — the mayor, the city legal counsel and the city administrator all signaled quite clearly that the DEIR would have to be revised and recirculated.
In fact, given the compelling and serious nature of that extensive public commentary on the DEIR, it is inconceivable that the city would accept it without revision and recirculation.
David Watkinson’s assertion, in his most recent letter, would have to be classified as wishful thinking in the extreme.
Emgold — in its press releases (which we assume are primarily aimed at investors) — has continually claimed that it is “in the advanced stage of permitting the Idaho-Maryland Project.”
Whether by design or by coincidence, Mr. Watkinson’s incorrect assertions in his latest letter are certainly consistent with Emgold’s extravagant assertions in its press releases.