Jeff Kane: Here’s a better poll for reopening mine
During the past month, numerous Union readers published eloquent critiques of its article about the poll that claimed to reveal majority support for reopening the Idaho-Maryland Mine.
That poll actually speaks less about the mine than Rise Gold’s low opinion of us. Its pollster was J. Wallin Opinion and Research (jwallin.com). Justin Wallin, its CEO, describes himself on his website as a “marketing concept” strategist. He holds an MBA with an emphasis in marketing and strategy. In other words, he doesn’t advertise himself to potential clients as a pollster, but as a marketer. And, as he mentioned to The Union, he’s good at what he does.
J. Wallin surveyed 500 Nevada County residents during the week following June 10, 2021. I urge you to read the query script at https://www.risegoldcorp.com/uploads/content/JWallinOpinionResearchCountyofNevadaVoterSurveyToplines.pdf?fbclid=IwAR11VCtC5AC1WTHnEgQrTw8zvk3jJssQ3MlGoQObCWa8Zk-nwCdeDKuqzsc
Here’s the opening line: “This is __________ with the Great West Policy Research Center, a regional opinion research organization.”
Wait a minute. The Great West Policy Research Center? Try finding that outfit online. Why not just identify as J. Wallin Opinion and Research? Could it be that the other title sounds more poll-y and less market-y?
The script goes on to describe the reopened mine as the finest gift to humankind since the opposable thumb, outdoing even Rise Gold’s own hyperbole. Each glowing description of its harmlessness is followed by, “Does knowing this make you more likely or less likely to support re-opening the Idaho-Maryland Mine?”
Just one example:
“All of the Idaho-Maryland Mine’s operations will be conducted deep underground, shielding the community from noise and vibration. Structures on the surface will be fully sound-insulated, while the natural terrain, trees and distance from Grass Valley residents means the project will be virtually undetectable. Does knowing this make you more likely or less likely to support re-opening the Idaho-Maryland Mine?”
Talk about leading the witness. You’ve got to hand it to J. Wallin, marketers. Their “poll” is an ad meant to convince us that the 20-ton diesel trucks hauling a thousand tons of tailings down our roads 16 hours a day will “be fully sound-insulated,” that “the project will be virtually undetectable,” and from another of its questions, that the 3.5 million gallons of water the operation will pump out of the mine every day isn’t oceanic in a drought. A “poll” that considers us such gullible rubes deserves a counter-poll like this:
1. “Dewatering the mine may not only bring buried heavy metal toxins to the surface, but contaminate waterways between here and the Sacramento River. That much pumping might lower the water table, drying up the wells of hundreds of homeowners. Does knowing this make you more likely or less likely to support reopening the Idaho-Maryland Mine?”
2. “The mine will pollute Nevada County’s air even more than its current sorry state, graded F by the American Lung Association. Our kids already suffer twice the state’s average asthma rate. As for greenhouse gases, mine operations will produce 9,000 metric tons per year — equivalent to the exhaust of 2,000 cars. When the mine’s heavy-duty diesels aren’t hauling, they’re estimated to idle 200,000 vehicle minutes a year. And this project plans to go on until the year 2100, exposing our grandchildren to hazardous air their entire lifetimes without them even having any say in the matter. Does knowing this make you more likely or less likely to support re-opening the Idaho-Maryland Mine?”
3. “As a commercial venturer, Rise Gold looks spectacularly lame. It has never operated a gold mine, and its finances suggest it’s the shakiest outfit since Ford’s Edsel division. Now, having presented its disingenuous, manipulative, and intelligence-insulting poll, it shows itself as contemptuous of our community. Does knowing this make you more likely or less likely to support reopening the Idaho-Maryland Mine?”
Having helped resist industrial mining in Nevada County over the past 35 years, I, for one, am tiring of the relentless battles. Sure, mining is part of our heritage, but it’s faded to zero during the last century.
Our county supervisors must be aware that our major industries now, tourism and recreation, have been around long enough to be considered equally valid heritage. I’d encourage our supervisors to pass an ordinance permanently prohibiting industrial mining in our county.
Jeff Kane lives in Nevada City.
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