By Chip Ashley
Last month, the Community Alliance reported that about two weeks after the Aug. 28 hearing, in which the Board of Supervisors (BOS) voted not to overturn the Planning Commission’s decision to deny Cemex’s application to mine Wa-ha-lish (Jesse Morrow Mountain), Cemex applied for a “re-hearing,” bolstering the application with threats of a lawsuit.
The “re-hearing” is scheduled for 9 a.m. on Nov. 13 in the Fresno County Ballroom (off the Fresno County Plaza downstairs from Tulare Street under the old Del Webb Building at 2220 Tulare St.).
Cemex’s appeal is based on procedural grounds. The multinational corporation’s attorneys argue that the BOS failed to certify the Final Environmental Impact Report before voting on its appeal to reverse the Planning Commission’s decision.
Members of the coalition opposing this mine for 10 years met at a meeting called by the Traditional Choinumni Tribe at Sanger’s American Veterans Hall on Sept. 29 to prepare in case the BOS agreed to the “re-hearing,” which county officials describe as unprecedented.
Traditional Choinumni Tribal Chair David Alvarez told guests at a KFCF fund-raiser on Oct. 14 that he had learned that the BOS had agreed to “re-hear” the Cemex appeal and that the “re-hearing” would be scheduled in early November.
At the BOS hearing on the Carmelita Mine, on Gerawan Farms property on Reed Avenue a few miles from Wa-ha-lish, Friends of Jesse Morrow Mountain attorney Marsha Burch prepared for the Cemex “re-hearing” while arguing against permitting the Carmelita project. Burch explained that the law allows the BOS to deny an application without certifying the Environmental Impact Report (EIR). Fresno County Counsel Kevin Briggs agreed but said it would be better to certify the EIR before denying the permit.
Burch and Briggs’ statements set the stage for the “re-hearing” on Cemex’s application. Do Briggs’ comments telegraph the BOS’s intentions? Will the supervisors stand up to the Goliath Cemex? Cemex’s threats put the coalition and the Fresno County government in some ways on the same side. Both now stand against a multinational corporation with far greater financial, legal and political power than Fresno County.
Readers need to come to the hearing to support the stand against Cemex and encourage the BOS to be courageous and stick to its decision to deny the permit to scar beautiful Wa-ha-lish.
Chip Ashley is a local environmental activist and member of the Tehipite Chapter of the Sierra Club. Contact him at 559-855-6376 or firstname.lastname@example.org.