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Officials extend comment deadline on Montanore Project

by Brad FuquaWestern News
| June 2, 2009 12:00 AM

Because of the complexity of the issue and to make sure all who wish to comment have enough time to do so, the Montanore Project’s public comment period was extended another four weeks.

The Environmental Protection Agency requested the extension, which pushes back the comment closure date on the proposed mine’s draft environmental impact statement to June 29.

The comment period opened on Feb. 27 and was originally scheduled to end on May 28.

“It’s a very complex project and has high potential for public interest,” said Emily Corsi, an environmental impact specialist from the Montana Department of Environmental Quality. “We set it up with a 90-day comment period, which is much longer than what is required.”

The State of Montana requires a minimum of 30 days for public comment while federal agencies must provide at least 45 days. Federal public notice requirements apply in the Montanore Project case because the U.S. Forest Service is doing a joint environmental review with Montana DEQ.

The draft EIS details alternatives for Montanore Minerals Corp.’s proposed copper and silver underground mine. The mine and associated transmission line is located about 18 miles south of Libby near the Cabinet Mountains.

Corsi was the moderator at an April public hearing on the Montanore Project in Libby. Corsi admitted that she was surprised more people didn’t comment during that event, although many showed up. About a dozen people commented out of the nearly 150 people who attended.

As of this past Friday, Corsi said more than 100 comments have been received, which falls into the range that officials expected. A number of comments, however, are simply “yes” or “no” statements with no detail.

“We appreciate opinions but we’re really after substantive comments,” Corsi said. “That way, we can address those. It’s just hard to address yea or nay.”

A record of decision for the mine is scheduled to be released by February 2010.

Written comments can be sent to one of two project coordinators:

• Emily Corsi, Montana DEQ, P.O. Box 200901, Helena, MT 59620. Phone: 406-444-2813. E-mail: deqmontanoreEIS@mt.gov .

• Bobbie Lacklen, Kootenai National Forest, 31374 U.S. Highway 2, Libby, MT 59923. Phone: 406-283-7681. E-mail: rl_montanore@fs.fed.us .