Banking on Our Future–Grass Valley Action

On March 21, 2023 (32123) from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m., local climate groups are organizing a Banking on Our Future demonstration at the corner of Brunswick and Sutton Way in Grass Valley, in coordination with Third Act and coordinated with similar events all across the country. This event will highlight the link between the top four banks taking our money in the front door (via bank accounts and credit cards) and giving it out the back door (via loans to fossil fuel companies that make climate chaos worse). Without this funding, the vital transition to clean energy would have happened years ago.

Third Act’s Banking on Our Future Campaign addresses the moral dilemma of investing in fossil fuels and points us in the direction of financial faithfulness through our banking choices. Third Act, whose members are age 60+, is organizing the March 21st Day of Action that will give all of us, regardless of age, an opportunity to assert that moral claim and pressure the “Big Four” banks (Bank of America, Chase, Citibank, and Wells Fargo) to stop bankrolling the expansion of the fossil fuel industry.  Third Act is not doing this alone. To date, 29 other organizations have signed on as partners, including GreenFaith, the Sierra Club and the Hip Hop Caucus. See Why We Must Act: Banks Drive Climate Destruction.

Participants in the local demonstration will gather at the corner of Brunswick and Sutton Way in Grass Valley, near Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Chase, and a Citibank ATM. People are encouraged to bring signs. Some participants will walk to these banks; some customers may cut up credit cards and close accounts. Organizers will share plans with local bank managers in advance. The purpose of the Day of Action is not to shut down banks, but to raise awareness about the link between banking and the climate crisis and to urge banks to fund clean energy projects rather than fossil fuels. Some bank managers and employee may agree.

The first step for participants, whether customers of these banks or not, is to Take the Pledge: “If Bank of America, Chase, Citibank, and Wells Fargo are still funding climate-destroying fossil fuel projects on March 21, 2023, I pledge to close my account and cut up my credit card. If I don’t bank at these institutions now, I pledge I won’t do so in the future.” Those who won’t be able to change banks immediately on March 21 are encouraged to sign the pledge anyway, start researching what it will take, and get the process going.

Those who need support to change banks can find help by reading How I Broke Free from Climate Bad Banks: It Feels So Good, and by joining or forming a Cohort, a group of four people who will walk together through changing banks and moving their money. We have a growing list of local Grass Valley banks and credit unions that do not invest in fossil fuels. If you want to take other creative action, check out Third Act’s resources or its Campaign toolkit.

Everyone is invited to participate in the local demonstration on the Day of Action, either as individuals or as part of a group. For instance, there will be a multifaith contingent.

Speakers, songs and chants, and other activities are still to be determined. This action is being sponsored locally by Earth Justice Ministries, Elders Climate Action, and Nevada County Climate Action Now.  [Other co-sponsors are welcome.]  For more about the local action, contact us at . For more about the national Banking on Our Future Ccampaign go to https://thirdact.org/our-work/banking-on-our-future/ and for more about the national day of action, go to https://thirdact.org/national-day-of-action/

 

 

The Mine is not Good for Children or Other Living Things

Sharon Delgado

On Mothers’ Day in 2006, after my husband Guari and I had moved back to Nevada County, our grown kids and grandkids gathered at Memorial Park for a picnic. I had requested it since I had happy memories of being there at the park when we raised our children. I imagined that our grandchildren would also enjoy playing at the playground and splashing in the creek.

I was shocked to see that metal fencing blocked the so-called creek. Signs warned people to stay out because it contained hazardous chemicals. What a nightmare. As it turned out, it was not a creek at all, but the Magenta Drain, which handles discharge from the Empire Mine. Some weeks afterward, I saw people in Hazmat suits working to strengthen the fence. Chilling.

I thought back, remembering the kids playing in the creek and wondering what they had been exposed to and how it might have impacted their health. I still wonder what ailments might be traced back to those exposures. I know now that toxic waste at the mine included mercury, arsenic, cadmium, lead, and other pollutants, and that it flowed into Wolf Creek and other area streams, where people fish and swim.

In 2014, a grand jury report found that local residents’ health, welfare, and water quality may be compromised by toxic pollution caused by the Empire Mine, Lava Cap Mine, and North Star Mine, and that for over 30 years governmental agencies failed to coordinate or properly enforce cleanup required by legal settlements and abatement orders.

Mine runoff from the Empire Mine is now being treated by a wastewater treatment system built by Empire Mine State Park and mine owner Newmont Mining. In other words, it was paid for with both public and private funds. This commonly takes place with mining corporations around the world. In fact, there is often no accountability for mining corporations that pollute. C  leanup from mining operations (if it happens) is often paid for by the state. It’s called corporate welfare—private gain for corporate “persons” at the expense of flesh and blood human beings, communities, and ecosystems.

For example, Rise Gold’s CEO Ben Mossman is currently on trial in Canada. He faces nine federal and twenty provincial charges related to toxic spills by his previous mining company, which polluted tribal waters, went bankrupt, and left Canadians with the costs.

Naturally, we oppose the reopening of the Idaho-Maryland Mine. The Environmental Impact Report is deficient in so many ways. Members of our community have spent countless hours analyzing it and uncovering its flaws. And we have prior commitments as a community that we the people have worked hard to implement. Why would any member of the Planning Commission or the Board of Supervisors vote to approve this project, which would override and negate the stated goals of the Nevada County Energy Action Plan?

I entreat each member of the Board of Supervisors to oppose it. Community members, please take this time to study the issues. Go to Minewatch at https://www.minewatchnc.org/ to find out what you can do to stop this travesty from taking place. Make your views known to the Planning Commission and the Board of Supervisors.

The promises of a re-opened gold mine ring hollow considering the potential health risks, disruption of community values and commitments, damage to local ecosystems, threats of further toxicity to our children and future generations, and so much more. Our beloved Nevada County has been damaged by the toxic legacy of the Gold Rush, but there is still so much beauty and life here, so much to be saved and protected. We may think that we sit on top of the natural world and try to control it, that is not true, and the natural world is not expendible for human gain. We are part of the interconnected and interdependent community of life, and as Indigenous people have always known, what we do to the community of life, we do to ourselves.

 

Climate Crisis Demands Change by Jonah Platt

Climate Crisis Demands Change was published by The Grass Valley Union. In addition to being a Nevada County Sunrise member, Jonah Platt is a member of the Board of Directors of Earth Justice Ministries.

We, the Nevada County Sunrise Chapter, are calling on the people of our community to support us and others as we ask for the community to undergo systemic change toward a more equitable and sustainable future.

It is unfortunate to look around us and see what feels like the world burning before our eyes. We’ve inherited this Earth and feel a need to protect it from ourselves.

There are options before us to create a more just and climate-responsible society and community but without collective and individual action, nothing changes. The Earth and many people upon it are crying out for real change.

The fact is, we can bring that change and alter the course of our shared humanity. The generations that come after us are our inherent responsibility. We must provide for them a safe and supportive environment to grow up in.

On a global scale, we’ve over-consumed what’s possible to sustain our guaranteed future as a species, while at the same time forsaking the survival of most living things on this planet. It’s no wonder many of us young people feel a sense of despair and oncoming collapse when considering the state of things.

That being an unfair environment to grow up in, we still believe there’s hope. We see it when members of our community act toward social and climate justice. We feel it when we organize and work together toward changing our community.

One ask that we have of you is that you help us as we call on our elected officials to make impactful policy decisions to directly address the climate emergency we are all in.

Nothing changes until we accept the emergency and initiate an aggressive adjustment to how we do things.

Some simple steps we can take now through policy action include stopping the reopening of the Idaho-Maryland Mine, updating the general plans of our cities and county to implement climate-responsible policies and procedures including plans for mitigating oncoming climate disasters, and working toward hitting carbon neutrality goals.

There are countless solutions we can adopt toward attaining a more sustainable future. We ask for your support and continued action to make a brighter future possible.

Join our call to action by signing our letter at https://actionnetwork.org/letters/climate-emergency, check us out online at http://www.nevadacountysunrise.org and follow us on Instagram at nevadacountysunrise.

Jonah Platt is a member of the Nevada County Sunrise Movement, which is a local hub for a national youth-led organization focusing on reversing the climate crisis through a Green New Deal. His piece was submitted on behalf of all members.

See the Union piece and the comments here:  https://www.theunion.com/opinion/columns/jonah-platt-climate-crisis-demands-change/

 

 

 

Water: More Precious than Gold

By Sharon Delgado and Dianna Suarez

Union article:  Water: More Precious than Gold

 

 

 

 

 

 

Even in the wake of the tremendous losses locally caused by the River Fire, and as heat waves, wildfires, drought, and smoke devastate Northern California, Rise Gold continues to inflate the economic benefits of reopening the Idaho-Maryland Mine. While the CEO claims that the silent majority supports it, those of us who are studying plans for the mine see many negative impacts. One significant and irreversible impact would be the depletion of our region’s groundwater, which would add to growing water scarcity and rising water prices in this time of climate change, just when we need to conserve water most.

How can we calculate the value of water against the value of gold? Gold is a commodity. Gold prices are high right now, tempting speculators from out of the area who want to profit by extracting both gold and profits; neither would stay in our community.

On the other hand, while water is often treated as a commodity, under natural law water is a right, given to all people and all parts of creation to sustain life. “Water is life.” Yet fresh water is becoming scarcer… and more expensive. According to NID documents, an acre foot of untreated water varies in price but averages from $50 to $70 locally. The Sacramento Bee reports that Sacramento area water agencies are selling water to southern California at $700 per acre foot.

How much is an acre foot of water? It is a volume of water the size of an acre, 1 foot deep. One million gallons of water equals 3.07 acre feet.

As we live through another drought, with the value of water rapidly increasing, dewatering local groundwater to reopen the Idaho Maryland Mine would mean loss of both economic and ecological value to our community. Using simple math, we can roughly estimate the economic value of groundwater slated for extraction. According to Rise Gold’s Technical Report, beginning mine operations would require draining the mineshaft by pumping out 2,500 acre feet of groundwater (81,433,250 gallons). Based on current NID prices, this means discharging between $125,000 and $175,000 worth of water down Wolf Creek into Bear River during the first six months of operation (2,500 acre feet x $50-$70).

Then, to keep the mineshaft clear, inflow of groundwater to the mineshaft, estimated at 1,375 acre feet (44,788,287 gallons) per year, would have to be pumped out continually. The next six months would see $34,300 to $48,000 down the creek and then between $68,600 and $96,000 would flow down the creek annually (1,372 acre feet x $50-$70). Within ten years, close to 500 million gallons of water, worth a whopping $776,700 to $1,087,400, would be lost to our community–a million dollars’ worth of precious water down the creek in the first decade!! This will go on for the next 70 years thereafter. Billions of gallons of water, worth millions, will be dumped down creek and out of our community.

Meanwhile, community members whose wells are dewatered will pay ever-increasing rates for NID treated water instead of drawing water out of their own wells, water that has been cleansed by Mother Nature as it percolates down to underground aquifers. (NID rates for treated drinking water during this drought vary from $.0039 per gallon for the first 500 cubic foot of water and $.0049 per each additional gallon, which adds up to between $1,270 and $1,596 per acre foot.)

Another fun fact: In only 35 years Rise Gold will have dewatered and discharged enough water down Wolf Creek to fill Scotts Flat Reservoir to capacity.

We must also consider the ecological value of groundwater lost due to the mine. We don’t see groundwater, so why does it need to be recharged? According to the US Geological Survey: “As part of the water cycle, groundwater is a major contributor to flow in many streams and rivers and has a strong influence on river and wetland habitats for plants and animals. People have been using groundwater for thousands of years and continue to use it today, largely for drinking water and irrigation. Life on Earth depends on groundwater just as it does on surface water.”

 

According to NID’s website: “Nevada Irrigation District encourages wise use of water. Conservation and water use efficiency is important to preserving our precious water resources. Water is needed for drinking water, household use, growing food, commercial and industrial uses, groundwater recharge and the environment.” Rise Gold’s plan is the reverse of recharging groundwater. Draining groundwater would deplete our aquifers, which would otherwise provide well water and contribute to supplying our local lakes, creeks, ponds, wildlife, trees, and vegetation with the water they need to thrive.

Nevada County has been a water-rich area, with lakes, rivers, and creeks contributing to its natural beauty and abundance of wildlife. But our shrinking snowpack, historically low reservoirs, record-breaking heat, smoke-filled skies, and parched lands and forests make clear that times are changing. Future climate projections are dire. Let us not compound these problems locally by letting Rise Gold extract and waste ourvaluable groundwater.

Water is more precious than gold.

Sharon Delgado, Nevada City

Dianna Suarez, Colfax

 

Sources:

USGS: Groundwater Flow and the Water Cycle: https://www.usgs.gov/special-topic/water-science-school/science/groundwater-flow-and-water-cycle?qt-science_center_objects=0#qt-science_center_objects

Sacramento water sales: https://www.sacbee.com/news/california/water-and-drought/article13908632.html

Nevada Irrigation District; https://www.nidwater.com/current-water-rates-1801c67