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Letter to the Editor: Open pit mine on Bill Williams not good for the environment

I read with interest this week the article the Williams News ran on the proposed Drake Cement mine on Bill Williams Mountain.

While Drake’s representative David Chavez claims to have “honesty and factual communications”, I find some of his statements are at least misleading.

The cement industry as a whole is one of the biggest sources of carbon dioxide emissions globally. If it were a country, it would be the 3rd largest CO2 emitter of greenhouse gasses on the planet. It leaves a massive carbon footprint and has a long way to go to clean up its act.

The use of pozzolan, and getting away from the use of fly ash, is cutting back on their CO2 emission. It’s also cheaper to produce cement using pozzolan increasing Peruvian mega-corporation profits. Yay, cement industry. You need to improve your carbon footprint.

But that in no way means that the open pit mine on Bill Williams Mountain is at all environmentally friendly or “green”.

Just because Drake claims their cement production is helping to “remove 146,000 tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere through Drake’s ‘green cement production process’ does not mean that it’s environmentally friendly and it certainly does not mean that open pit mining will not harm the environment.

Open pit mining on Bill Williams Mountain will destroy that environment, leave a big ugly scar for decades to come, and can never be reclaimed or restored to its current state.

Mr. Chavez also wants to help the USFS with their thinning operation on the mountain. The area of the proposed mine has already been thinned. What Drake would do is remove all the remaining trees and brush by clear cutting the area. Clear cutting is much different than thinning and would be hazardous to the area and the two watersheds that run through the mine area.

We have only to look to our neighbors in Flagstaff and see the devastation that flooding has caused by water running off the mountain with no vegetation. Mr. Chavez also states they will take the trees they cut and burn them for free fuel in their plant in Paulden. How will that benefit our community? And how will removing those trees “remove an additional 34,000 tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere annually”? Live trees remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, not the absence of trees.

Mr. Chavez also claims that “this project will not create pollution, noise, industrial traffic” or lower the “quality of life or property values”. I don’t know how he can claim this??

For those of us that live, camp, hike, and hunt in the area will most certainly be affected. The heavy equipment and large transport trucks alone will create a lot of noise, dust/silica pollution, and industrial traffic.

This proposed mine backs up to a lot of private property. How can having an open pit mine in your back yard not reduce your property value and quality of life? There will be dust, a lot of dust. Drake says it will bring out water trucks to mitigate the dust. That is a band aide for a large problem and will only be using more of our precious water resource.

Mr. Chavez also claims they will only be mining 240 acres of the claimed 850 acres. Why then did they claim 850 acres? And no matter what the size, the mine will be visible even though they claim “there will be no visual impact”. It will not be hidden in the trees, especially on the steeper slope visible from town and Perkinsville Road

This mine in its current proposed area is not a good fit for the city of Williams and its residents. The City of Williams, Coconino County, and the vast majority of surrounding residents oppose this mine. Please continue to voice you opposition. Our representatives are hearing us and need to hear more. Visit https://protectourmountain.wixsite.com/protect-bill-william for more information and how you can help.

~Jeff and Laura Woolsey

Williams

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