Mining bid on Maury Island gets a bit closer to reality
A bid to mine away a chunk of Maury Island for sand and gravel moved a big step closer to reality Tuesday when the gravel company Glacier...
Seattle Times environment reporter
A bid to mine away a chunk of Maury Island for sand and gravel moved a big step closer to reality Tuesday when the gravel company Glacier Northwest won a pivotal court case against environmentalists and King County.
The Washington Supreme Court declined, without comment, to hear an appeal of a lower-court ruling that granted Glacier Northwest a critical permit.
That permit was needed to build a massive pier to carry gravel from the land to barges offshore in Puget Sound.
The Supreme Court action marks the end of that legal road for mine opponents, who have said the massive expansion of an existing mine threatens an aquifer used for drinking water, as well as federally-protected chinook salmon and orcas that swim in the Sound.
"It is yet another affirmation that the project is environmentally responsible," Glacier Northwest general manager Mark Leatham said in a news release.
But the gravel barges won't start running yet. The company still needs a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and a lease from the state Department of Natural Resources, which owns the underwater land where the dock would be built, said Pete Stoltz, the company's permit coordinator.
Mine opponents, meanwhile, are still trying to block the company from getting all the permits it needs, and lobbying the Legislature to change state environmental law to block the mine on the island, which is joined to Vashon Island.
Mine opponents would go to federal court to challenge the Army Corps permit, if the Corps issues it, said David Mann, an attorney representing Preserve Our Islands and People for Puget Sound.
"Obviously we're disappointed. But the fact remains that Maury Island is not the place to put a mine of this size or type," said Amy Carey, president of Preserve Our Islands.
Warren Cornwall: 206-464-2311 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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