Arguments between players or managers and umpires are way down in Major League Baseball due to replay (a specialized version of the knowledge box). It seems we are all moving toward some world where the theme song is brought to us by Doris Day.
But before you get too comfortable, there are a few caveats. We cannot forget that there are those who are embedded like ticks in whatever ideology that floats their boats who disregard facts and speak of conspiracy when confronted with actual facts. And blessedly there still remain areas where knowledge is incomplete, even irresponsibly so, which brings me to my missive today.
For those of us who actually believe in that "there is nothing new under the sun," tripe (oh wait, we wouldn't believe it if we thought it were tripe, hmmm delicious irony in the fourth graph), well this story ain't shiny and new because it simply plays to the bone that ole story of the government shining up a turd and saying it's a Baby Ruth. God, I love Baby Ruth, so unhealthy and chock full of future diabetes and then there are the peanuts that could mean an EpiPen stabbing for some unfortunate soul, but I digress...
I want to talk about that Gold King Mine and that major mistake by the Environmental Protection Agency's hired contractor, but first I want to point out that you have absolutely no idea how many more of these potential environmental disasters are sitting there like the Gold King Mine was on August 4, a day before it got poked. Trust me, you have no clue, even if you pay attention. You know why, because I highly doubt you did any math even if you looked it up. The math doesn't add up, you have to do that on your own because your government didn't, they guessed, found a number and said, "What the hell."
No, I'm dead serious, they didn't even do a simple single round of fact checking that would require math. The BLM says there are 46,000 abandoned mines and about 77 percent of them need to be investigated, that would mean about 35,420 abandoned mines that need to be investigated, but wait there is more. Oh, so much more.
You see, the BLM and I am not really getting on their case, they point you to a website The Abandoned Mine Lands Portal that gives numbers on abandoned mines per state. Well, it didn't take long for me to see that I needed my chest waders if I were to believe either site. You know, since the numbers didn't match up, at all.
Naturally, I checked Idaho's abandoned mines first. The state, EPA, the Mineral Policy Center had what can only be defined as a guess because the number on the abandoned mine lands portal site said 8,000-16,000 and then there was the BLM's number of 5,035.
As a former journalist who has waded through more piles of government (let's say) waste than he cares to remember, immediately rewarded the part of his brain that was skeptical to begin with when asking the knowledge box this query. So, I then got the data for all the states that the Salmon River Mountain Press tries to cover and well the abandoned mines in just the states of Idaho, Montana, Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, Utah, Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona and Alaska and I got 99,224 abandoned mines and that doesn't count all the abandoned mines in states to the east. And when I looked at those states in the east, I noticed that obviously this information has not been standardized and therefore the only conclusion that any sentient being can come up with is that we do not have a hard number of abandoned mines in this country and therefore we cannot understand the potential environmental hazard that already exists on our landscape.
Yes, I did bold that last part, because it is incredibly important that you understand the potential hazard is vast and unknown.
Yes, I love mustard. I love mustard on my cheeseburger, on my Vandal dog and on my Hebrew National hot dog (when I am not in Moscow, Idaho). Am I not right that when in Moscow you should have the Vandal dogs, but anywhere else you should have a Hebrew National, oh what a wonderful and BONUS kosher incredibly unhealthy processed meat, but again I digress. I do not like my rivers to be of a mustard hue. And I am going to venture to say that not many other people do either.
I do not let the Environmental Protection Agency off the hook for what can only be described as an epic, royal screw up, but let us not forget that they were attempting to clean up one of these known hazards in a world where the true number and scale of the problem before us is not known. The Animas River and its inhabitants paid a huge price for what is essentially the absolutely irrational response mankind has had toward shiny objects.
Now, I know that legions of you believe that this is 2015 and the mining industry wouldn't dare put in an application if they weren't prepared to mitigate the mess they plan to make. You know the ole saying, fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me? Well, this ain't the mining industry's first of second go at it. And we are beyond fool status.
Here's how it works for those of you not too quick on the uptake. The typical model is thus. A foreign company (Canadian, you know, our nice, nonthreatening neighbors to the north or Australian, you know G'day Mate) they have a mining company. They buy some mining claim here or there that was held by someone looking to make a buck by selling when the price of gold or silver or whatever was higher than when they bought the claim. And they bought the claim from someone else who bought it from someone else. Think Ponzi Scheme. Well, someone at some point realizes that the price of shiny crap is through the roof and all the sudden these older than Methuselah mining claims now have actual pay dirt even if it means one ounce per 10 tons of crushed rock (which has to go somewhere, as does all the caustic soda water the extraction produces). And by God, this country hasn't changed the Mining Law of 1872, so it is my right or rit to go permanently alter for the worse some wonderful speck of nature.
So, eventually some government manager gives the permit and this company, which actually has formed a subsidiary or probably several subsidiaries now begins to alter the earth for the worse to obtain some, relatively speaking, small amount of shiny stuff that may or may not be used in that knowledge box, but most likely will be used in some form of adornment article that in more than half the cases will be fought over in divorce proceedings. Anywho, they get all this shiny stuff and they set the market and then all the sudden something happens to the price of shiny stuff and now to make it pay you have to be able to get an ounce of it out of five tons of crushed rock and well, good thing the mother company made all those subsidiaries. Because the money filters up to the mother company and eventually they let the lower subsidiaries go bankrupt before they can implement their promised reclamation plan. The mother company gets all the profits and doesn't have to reclaim the site. Guess who does?
You do, American taxpayer, you get to clean up these sites. And guess what, you don't have the money to do it and occasionally the people you hire to do it poke a hole in the wrong spot and unleash a caustic soda of environmental disaster.
Well, it should make you think about who you vote for and about why you should speak out against whatever mine wants to come and fix the recession in your neck of the woods because things that are too good to be true, always are.
And because this is the Salmon Blog, imagine that huge yellow ribbon of caustic soda making its way downstream in any tributary of the Columbia/Snake or any salmon river you hold dear. Why aren't you outraged that people are working right now to extract whatever shiny crap they lay claim to in a watershed that hold endangered wild salmon and steelhead? I don't know what will wake you from your modern day coma, if not this.