EIR Updates: County Extends Comment Deadline for Mining Project; Will Provide Translations

Santa Clara County has announced a six-week extension of the public comment period on the draft Environmental Impact Report for the proposed mining project that threatens Juristac. The new comment deadline is November 7, 2022. In addition, the County has announced plans to translate the 55-page Executive Summary into Spanish, Chinese, Tagalog, and Vietnamese!

Featured photo: aerial view of proposed alternative site for aggregate processing plant.

The comment period extension is welcome news, as it provides more time to prepare impactful and well-researched comments and to ask others to prepare their own. Visit our EIR Comment Period Action page for guidance on writing your own letter, and please help us continue to spread the word about the need for public comment letters to be submitted. We are deeply moved and inspired by the hundreds of impactful letters that have been sent to the County to date.

Representatives of the ACLU of Northern California, Tierras Milperas and other organizations had specifically called upon Santa Clara County to provide translated copies of the EIR for public review. In their strong 4-page letter to the County requesting translation and interpretation services, ACLU Nor Cal noted that limited-English speaking communities are “currently excluded from the EIR public comment process because of linguistic barriers.”

County provides new figures for Alternatives 2 and 3

Alternative processing plant location in Tick Creek watershed. View location on Google Maps

On September 13, the County released a 3-page Errata to Draft Environmental Impact Report document to provide two key figures that were missing in the original published draft EIR. These figures depict the alternative proposed location for the 62-acre aggregate processing plant that is associated with Alternative 2 and Alternative 3 in the draft EIR. The details of these alternative proposals, and specifically Alternative 3, are now of elevated importance, following the developer’s public statements “in support” of Alternative 3 being approved by the county. (Note that the developer has not withdrawn their original application and thus continues to seek approval of the full, original proposed project despite public remarks suggesting otherwise.)

Alternative 3 represents only a partial modification of the same proposed mining project, with a reduction in the number of mining pits and the relocation of the processing plant and conveyor belt northward. As the EIR states in its discussion of Alternative 3, this alternative would still result in significant and unavoidable impacts in every category where the original proposed project creates them (see Table 4.7 “Comparison of Alternatives to the Project” on p. 642-644 of the EIR).

Importantly, moving the quarry processing plant north into the Tick Creek watershed as proposed under Alternative 3 would impact additional culturally sensitive locations by expanding the footprint of the mining operation into portions of the Juristac Tribal Cultural Landscape that were not slated for disturbance in the original proposal. Any mining project at Juristac would irreversibly damage the sacred Juristac Tribal Cultural Landscape, destroy grassland and oak woodland habitats, and disrupt a critically important wildlife corridor.

“The modified proposal to mine Juristac known as Alternative 3 remains completely unacceptable to our tribe,” Amah Mutsun Chairman Valentin Lopez told the Gilroy Dispatch. “Alternative 3 would still drive a stake through the heart of the sacred hills of Juristac by excavating a giant open pit mine and building an industrial complex in this highly sensitive landscape.”

A few example DEIR Comment Letters

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