Washington State News Archive
Below are archived news items for the current month. To view a previous month, choose it from the list below.
"State pursues millions in unpaid taxes from businesses" -- Vancouver Columbian
In 2010, theWashington State Department of Revenue (DOR)
issued 15,494 warrants statewide seeking to collect roughly $104 million in overdue taxes from companies. DOR keeps a list of hundreds of businesses that have failed to meet their tax obligations, posts the delinquent taxpayer list
on its website, and updates the list monthly. There are many reasons for non-payment ranging from economic hardships to tax evasion. DOR tries to give businesses the opportunity to settle their debts, but if a company remains recalcitrant, then the state takes more serious steps. Those steps include issueing a warrant for back taxes, filing a lien in court against a company’s assets and finally, revoking the license to do business.
A business can file an appeal if they disagree with DOR. Currently, there is a $2.8 billion state budget
shortfall and as of July 27, businesses owed the state $168 million. The bulk of that is unpaid sales taxes
, but business and occupation taxes
are also a factor. - 08/01/2010"State starts offering health insurance to high-risk uninsured" --Peninsula Daily News
The state is now enrolling uninsured residents with serious medical conditions in the state high-risk insurance pool. Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler
said Monday the coverage is funded by a $102 million federal grant to help those most in need until 2014, when, as part of the federal health care reform package
, people cannot be denied insurance because of a pre-existing condition. Rates for a $2,500 deductible plan range from $161 to $769 per month, depending on age and whether the person seeking coverage smokes. Enrollment forms are available from the Pre-existing Condition Insurance Plan
, the temporary federal high risk pool administered for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)
by a subsidiary limited liability company of the Washington State Health Insurance Pool (WSHIP).
- 08/02/2010"State to look at agencies' overtime" -- The OlympianWashington Office of Financial Management (OFM)
budget staffers are looking into rumors that state agencies have undercut the expected $73 million in savings from planned furlough days by paying overtime to replacement workers. The Washington Federation of State Employees
has been concerned Senate Bill 6503’s
furlough plan would have reduced savings because of overtime costs. Washington’s furlough law was designed to exempt specific job categories, such as emergency services, prison and custodial workers, State Patrol troopers and emergency dispatchers, and state health lab workers. The law also exempts workers who bring money in to the state coffers, such as state-run liquor store clerks and Department of Revenue agents. A formal Department of Personnel
data report due soon will show overtime data for the month of July and OFM plans to study it.
- 08/04/2010"Upcoming workshops on a new tribal sovereignty curriculum "-- Yakima HeraldThe Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction
is hosting a series of workshops on a new tribal sovereignty curriculum
that will be available to school districts around the state. The new online curriculum was developed through the OSPI Indian Education/Title I Office
and pilot tested the last two years in 14 schools. It provides tribal sovereignty information, short lessons and entire units for every Washington State History and Contemporary World Problems unit recommended by OSPI.
- 08/04/2010"Coyote Ridge first prison in U.S. to get top green award" --Tri-City HeraldCoyote Ridge Corrections Center
is the first prison campus to meet national standards for its green and energy-saving practices. The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)
gold certification was awarded for the green-building techniques and energy-saving measures incorporated in the 2008 prison expansion. According to the U.S. Green Building Council
, Coyote Ridge is the first prison in the world where the entire campus has met the LEED standard. The recent prison expansion added a 2,048-bed medium security section to the 600-bed minimum security facility. The facility has been gaining new prisoners since the State Department of Corrections (DOC)
decided to transfer inmates to the newly expanded prison while closing portions of older prisons to save money. The state also brought back prisoners to Washington who were being held in other states.
- 08/04/2010"Sockeye surprise" -- Spokesman-Review
A record run of sockeye salmon
surging up the Columbia River this summer. More than 386,300 sockeye have been counted this summer at Bonneville Dam
. Since dam counts began in 1938, the previous record run was 335,300 sockeye in 1947, including a substantial harvest below Bonneville that year. Sockeye are distinct among Pacific salmon because juveniles spend a year in lake water before migrating to sea. The tribal Okanagan Nation Alliance
, the Canadian government
and other entities are working to reopen historic habitat with the potential of increasing production of these wild fish. A 12-year study is nearing completion on opening more habitat by creating fish passage at Skaha Dam
. The study
is to be completed in 2012. The Colville tribe
has been participating in the study.
- 08/01/2010"Howard Hanson Dam flood risk subsiding " -- Tacoma News Tribune
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
is becoming more confident in the ability of Howard Hanson Dam
to control floodwater on the Green River this winter. The risk of a flood that would overtop levies in South King County communities is now 1 in 60, down from 1 in 30 last winter. By next winter the dam should be back at its planned flood risk – 1 in 140 – with the construction of a series of filtered drains inside the dam’s right abutment, as well as other improvements to start this fall. The dam was weakened following heavy rains that filled the dam reservoir in January 2009.
The federal money for the work is on its way. Late last month, President Obama approved $44 million
for interim measures to continue strengthening the dam.
- 08/10/2010"More campsites are wanted at Connelly Park" -- Columbia Basin Herald Moses Lake
The Moses Lake Irrigation and Rehabilitation District (MLIRD)
held its second meeting of the summer to gather public input on improvements to Connelly Park.
The MLIRD is required to develop the land for recreational purposes, according to a contract it has with the U.S. General Services Administration
and is encouraged to do so through the Revised Code of Washington.
The park is formerly known as Airmen's Beach because airmen from nearby Larson Air Force Base
used to swim there before the base closed. Various recreational improvements, including a possible memorial for airmen were suggested. About 500 people visit Connelly Park daily,
- 08/06/2010"Progress made on removing K Basins sludge" Tri-City News
Workers have removed the radioactive sludge
from the settler tubes in Hanford's K West Basin.
Eventually, the radioactive sludge will be moved farther from the Columbia River and treated for disposal. After the Cold War ended and Hanford stopped processing fuel to remove plutonium, 2,300 tons of irradiated fuel were left stranded at the K Basins, 400 yards from the Columbia River. The fuel corroded and contributed to the radioactive sludge that collected in the pools from dirt, sand and concrete that sloughed off the walls of the basin. The last of the fuel was removed from the basins in 2004, and since then, Hanford workers have been dealing with the radioactive sludge that remains. CH2M Hill Plateau Remediation Co.
was able to empty the settler tubes of more than 99 percent of the sludge they held. Capturing the remaining sludge from the settler tubes will pave the way for complete removal and supports U.S. Department of Energy's vision
of completing cleanup along the Columbia River by 2015.
- 08/10/2010"Port Angeles drug return program celebrates first anniversary" -- Port Angeles Peninsula Daily News
The free Clallam County Prescription Drug Return Program collected more than 90 boxes of unused prescription drugs during its first year of operation.The program was developed by Frick Drug in Sequim and Jim's Pharmacy in Port Angeles in cooperation with the Washington State Board of Pharmacy
and the Clallam County Sheriff's Office.
Law enforcement personnel take the drugs to an Environmental Protection Agency
-approved incinerator in Spokane
where law enforcement officials destroy the drugs they seize on the street. This is the first anniversary of the pilot program. - 08/09/2010"Fairs a beloved tradition, but funding could be at risk" -- Yakima Herald
The 83rd annual Yakima Valley Fair and Rodeo
continues through Saturday at Grandview Country Park Event Center. Besides the volunteer judges, a state judge or commissioner from the state Department of Agriculture
compares the horticulture building against other departments of the fair and evaluates the fair overall. The state spends $2 million per year
to help nonprofit groups put on fairs. The money must be spent on prizes, ribbons or trophies. State premium funding amounts to about $10,000 for the Yakima Valley Fair and Rodeo.The fair's budget ranges between $40,000 and $50,000. Funds for fairs are allocated by the state Legislature
every year based on participation. With a projected $3 billion dollar shortfall, State Legislators next 2011-2013 budget will be reconsidering all expenditures, including the allocation for agricultural fairs. - 08/11/2010"Corps to use man-made islands to corral Toutle River sediment" -- Longview Daily News
Under a $3.5 million contract with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
, a Woodland-based contractor over the last month has driven more than 1,000 pilings into the broad floodplain of the north fork of the Toutle River. LKE Corporation
is building two types of sediment-control works about a mile upstream of the big sediment-control dam the corps built across the river in the 1980s after the eruption of Mount Saint Helens. Horseshoe-shaped weirs will create islands mimicing the way islands are created below log jams."Cross valley structures" made of piles and joined together by heavy planks will steer the river through a labyrinth of turns, or baffles to slow the current. About half the Toutle project work force - which has ranged from 30 to 50 workers — consists of people hired from the Cowlitz County
- 08/11/2010"Larch closure back on the table" -- Vancouver Columbian
Because of the worsening revenue picture, if the Washington Department of Corrections
has to close a prison this year, the Larch Corrections Center
is the likely candidate. The cuts, if revenue doesn’t rebound in September, would take effect Oct. 1. The 480-bed minimum-security prison near Yacolt closed 240-beds as a budget cutting measure previously but fixed costs have remained. The state projects a net savings of about $2.5 million from closing Larch over the last six months of the current budget year. Southwest Washington lawmakers have fought the closure, citing the work done by Larch inmate crews
who fight wildfires and perform environmental restoration projects.
- 08/13/2010"Officials may have temporary solution to problem with new ferry" -- Everett Herald
The $76.5 million ferry, Chetzemoka
, built for the Port Townsend
run, vibrates at top speed and while slowing down. The vessel is one of three scheduled to be built by Todd Pacific Shipyards
for the state and was due to start working on August 29, 2010. That date has been postponed. The state has not formally accepted delivery of the Chetzemoka from Todd Shipyards. - 08/13/2010"Snohomish County PUD to probe for sources of geothermal energy" -- Everett Herald
The Snohomish County PUD
is planning to drill five test wells in the Cascade Range
this fall. It's believed the wells will indicate whether there's enough hot water below the surface to use for geothermal power. Geothermal power
is created when steam, heat or hot water from underground reservoirs is used to spin turbine generators. The test sites are not production locations; the test sites will be used to gather information. The PUD will spend $250,000 to dig the wells; up to half of that cost could be covered by funds from the U.S. Department of Energy.
To increase its percentage of renewable, environmentally friendly energy the PUD also is working on a pilot project for tidal power, is buying wind power from private developers in the Columbia Gorge and has a solar-panel incentive program. In 2006, voters approved Initiative 937
, which requires the state's major utilities to produce 15 percent of their electricity from renewable resources such as wind and geothermal by 2020.
- 08/16/2010"Crew's work protects new trees at Tarboo preserve" -- Peninsula Daily News Port Angeles
This isthe eighth year of the Northwest Watershed Institute's
habitat restoration effort in the 316-acre Tarboo Wildlife Preserve in the lower Tarboo Valley. The land is protected under a conservation easement held by the Jefferson Land Trust
. Tarboo Creek is the main freshwater source to Dabob Bay, and this conservation work helps ensure clean water for the estuary and shellfish farmers downstream and bringing back habitat for salmon and rare wildlife species. The work is funded largely through state and federal contracts for habitat restoration, including the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program
, administered by the Jefferson County Conservation District
and the Natural Resource Conservation Service's
Wetland Reserve Program, as well as competitive grants from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
and the Washington State Aquatic Land Enhancement Account.
- 08/17/2010"Largest smart grid in U.S. gets funding" -- Tri-City Herald
The Pacific Northwest Smart Grid Demonstration Project, a $178 million project, will demonstrate and test smart grid projects at 11 Northwest utilities, including the Benton Public Utility District
. The Department of Energy
has released $45 million to move the demonstration project from the planning to actual work, such as installing equipment. Federal economic stimulus money
is being matched by money from the utilities. Smart grid technology is proposed to use new equipment and software to allow two-way communication between utilities and consumers. It would help utilities know more about who is using the grid when and help them use the grid more efficiently. For consumers, it could mean lower power costs. Also participating in the Pacific Northwest Smart Grid Demonstration Project are the Bonneville Power Administration
, the University of Washington
and Washington State University
- 08/17/2010"Beaver relocation project moves unwelcome animals to new homes" -- Wenatchee World
After people complained a beaver was damaging an irrigation system near the Winthrop National Fish Hatchery
he was trapped and moved to a 5,000-foot location, Lightning Creek. The creek meanders through lush grass and branchless black trees killed in the 2006 Tripod Fire. Methow Valley Beaver Relocation Project
goal is to remove the nuisance beaver, and to reestablish them in a new spot to show that bringing beavers back to the high-elevation streams where they once flourished will improve the health of the ecosystem by creating natural water storage areas, providing more cool water to the late summer stream flows. People are allowed to kill beavers that are causing them problems as long as they do it in a safe and humane way according to the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife
If someone wants to keep the pelt, they must obtain a license.
- 08/17/2010"Swedish gets approval to take over Stevens Hospital" -- Everett Herald
Seattle's Swedish Health Services
received state approval Tuesday to take over management of Stevens Hospital
in Edmonds. The move ends Stevens' 46-year history as a public hospital. Final approval on the proposal came from the Washington State Department of Health
late Tuesday. The Swedish-Stevens agreement is thought to be the only one of its kind in Washington. Swedish, a nonprofit health care organization, will pay $600,000 in monthly lease payments to the public hospital district.
These payments will increase 3 percent each year, for the 30 years of the agreement.
- 08/18/2010"I-90 rocks out" -- Yakima Herald
The widening and other improvements to Interstate 90
east of the summit of Snoqualmie Pass
, is one of the largest road projects currently under way by the Washington State Department of Transportation
. The $570 million improvement on five miles, from Hyak to Keechelus Dam, will take four years to complete. Along with safer road conditions and less congesion, the project will improve wildlife passage zones. For example, a longer bridge span at Gold Creek will improve habitat for bull trout
listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act
. The current project
is funded by the 9.5-cent gas tax increase
the Legislature approved in 2005. The remainder of the road-widening project, another 10 miles from Keechelus Dam
, isn't yet funded and could take another 10 years to complete.
- 08/18/2010"Husky Stadium upgrade plans include revenue ideas " -- Seattle Daily Journal of Commerce
To help cover the cost of renovating Husky Stadium
at the University of Washington
, there are three proposals for the stadium renovation
suggesting a wide array of revenue-generating ideas such as selling naming rights to the stadium, and serving beer and wine in the new club seating areas. Wright Runstad & Co. of Seattle
had the winning proposal: an estimated cost of $250 million, nearly $30 million less than the next-closest proposal, which was AEG Development of Los Angeles
at $279 million. Keating Project Development of Philadelphia
came in at $400 million. The team led by AEG counted a total of 37 naming opportunities, including the ticket office, the visitor’s locker room and the docks on Union Bay.
- 08/19/2010"USDA revokes Hawaii trash shipment permit" -- Longview Daily News
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)
has revoked a permit to ship some of Honolulu Hawaii's garbage to Roosevelt, Washington
through the Port of Longview
. The USDA's decision may kill the on-again, off-again plan to ship up to 100,000 tons of garbage annually to the landfill in central Washington. The port has not made any major investments to handle the containers of shrink-wrapped waste expected to arrive by barge once a month. Once the waste arrives it would be loaded on to rail cars or trucks for shipment to Roosevelt. The USDA has reviewed the proposal before and indicated the project would not introduce tropical foreign plants, pests or diseases into the region. The Yakama tribe
, which owns a reservation north of Roosevelt, earlier this year sued the USDA in an attempt to block the shipments because it is concerned about invasive species hitching a ride from Hawaii and causing agricultural or environmental harm.
- 08/18/2010"Cowlitz County smoking rate at lowest level in seven years" -- Longview Daily News
The adult smoking rate for Cowlitz County
dropped 5 percentage points from the year before - to 19.4 percent in 2009 from 24.4 percent in 2008, according to a report the Washington State Department of Health
released Thursday. The Progress Report
shows state-wide the adult smoking rate has dropped to a new low of 14.8 percent. That’s down from 15.3 percent the previous year. According to the Federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Washington now has the third lowest smoking rate in the nation. The Cowlitz County Health Department
has included "smoking cessation" messages in its Healthy Homes program, which works with residents to identify respiratory, allergy and asthma triggers in the home.
Policy changes, such as the city of Longview's
recent ban on tobacco use in city parks and Lower Columbia College's
smoke-free campus, also are having an impact. Officials continued to be concerned that people from low-income and low-education backgrounds continue smoking at higher rates and that rates of exposure to secondhand smoke have risen.
- 08/19/2010"State agency: No OT from furloughs" -- The Olympian
The Washington State Office of Financial Management (OFM)
found state government cut its overtime costs in July by almost $1.1 million compared with the same month a year ago. Agencies shelled out nearly $10.1 million in overtime during the first month of furloughs in July, which also was $244,102 less than agencies spent in June, according to OFM. The Washington Federation of State Employees
union, which has a lawsuit pending over the furloughs, plans to do its own review of overtime. OFM said overtime cost varied by agency: the largest spike in cost was at the Department of Natural Resources (DNR)
, which paid $1 million in overtime in July. That was $889,637 more than in June, but the increase was the result of fire-suppression costs
that typically flare each July. Washington’s 10 furlough days
are predicted to save $38 million from the general fund and $35 million more from other fund sources.
- 08/20/2010"Lake Mills closure planned in next 10 days as preparations begin for dams' removal" -- Port Angeles Peninsula Daily NewsLake Mills
is a fishing and recreational boating reservoir that sits behind Glines Canyon Dam, sister to the Elwha Dam
, both of which will be torn down beginning in September 2011 and ending in March 2014. It is the largest dam removal project in U.S. history and will free the Elwha River
after 100 years. At least 18 million cubic yards of gravel and dirt is piled behind the dams -- 13 million behind Glines and 5 million behind Elwha. When the dams are removed and a channel dug, the sediment will go downstream and restore fish habitat, shellfish beds and beaches along the Strait of Juan de Fuca
. A precise closure date of Lake Mills will be set once the channel-digging contract is completely negotiated and signed.
- 08/20/2010"State Ecology promises $4 million if Harbor-Works buys Rayonier property by end of the year" -- Port Angeles Peninsula Daily News
The Washington State Department of Ecology
has promised to set aside $4 million for Harbor-Works
if the public development authority buys Port Angeles waterfront property owned by Rayonier
. HarborWorks on Aug. 3 asked that Ecology formally reserve in a trust $4 million from Ecology's toxics cleanup account
to ensure Rayonier that it has money to cover higher-than-expected cleanup costs. Harbor-Works was created more than two years ago by the city and Port of Port Angeles to acquire the 75-acre site on the Port Angeles waterfront -- which has been an Ecology cleanup site
since 2000 -- help expedite its cleanup and redevelop it. The Rayonier property on the eastern shore of Port Angeles Harbor is contaminated by low levels of heavy metals, PCBs and dioxin left from 68 years of a pulp mill operation, which ended in 1997. Local leaders remain unsure if the action will be enough to persuade Rayonier executives to return to negotiating a possible sales agreement with Harbor-Works.
- 08/26/2010"State workers, state argue contract offer" -- The Olympian
The Washington Federation of State Employees (WFSE)
has rejected an offer by Governor Gregoire's
negotiators, which covers health, dental, vision and life insurance costs. Only the health care portion of those benefits is in dispute. Gov. Chris Gregoire wants state workers to pay up to 26 percent of their health insurance premiums next year or for workers to keep paying 12 percent of health premiums but accept even higher out-of-pocket costs. The Labor Relations Office
is negotiating about two dozen labor contracts with unions representing workers in general government and higher education. Agreements must be reached and ratified by Oct. 1 to allow inclusion in Gregoire’s budget proposal
for 2011-13. State employees today pay 12 percent of the cost of health insurance premiums, and the state pays the other 88 percent. Rather than the Governor's options, the WSFE prefers looking at other options such as the closure of tax breaks.
- 08/26/2010"Root rot takes down sick firs and their healthy-looking neighbors" -- Wenatchee WorldWashington State Parks
evacuated the 489-acre Lake Wenatchee
tract on August 25, after finding evidence of aggressive root rot in many of its trees. Worried for park users’ safety from falling trees, officials shut the area to camping and hiking and began removing those conifers deemed ill or in danger of disease. There’s not yet an exact count on the number of trees that will have to be removed but about 200 trees have been marked for removal. A forest pathologist with the Washington Department of Natural Resources
explained that the fungus follows along the roots from sick tress to healthy trees. Thus many of the trees neighboring sick trees are already infected and also need to be removed. The park boat launch and nearby U.S. Forest Service
campgrounds remained open for use and State Parks personnel are contacting reservation holders of closed campsites to offer alternatives for the Labor Day weekend.
- 08/30/2010"State ABCD program gives kids a jumpstart on proper dental care" -- Longview Daily NewsWashington State's Access to Baby and Child Dentistry (ABCD)
is a program designed to hook up Medicaid
kids with local dentists trained to treat infants and young children. ABCD programs provide preventive care and dental services to Medicaid-insured children under age 6 in 33 of Washington's 39 counties. The program covers children through age 5, and its goal is to have every Medicaid child enrolled and with a "dental home" by age 1. The Pew Research Center
, a non-partisan institute for polling and policy studies based in Washington, D.C., recently studied the program. According to the Pew Center report, "other states would be smart to consider a similar approach. ... because many thousands of dollars are saved each time ABCD's mix of education and prevention saves a child from cavities that develop into infections or surgical extractions, requiring emergency-room visits and operating-room services."
There are about 7,000 Medicaid-eligible children in Cowlitz
counties and in three years' time, 3,800 have been enrolled in ABCD.
- 08/27/2010"Ballot to shape budget" -- The Olympian
Six citizen initiatives and a referendum from the Legislature will appear on the ballot this November. Based on an initiative-by-initiative analysis by the state Washington State Office of Financial Management
the state's budget outlook could be re-shaped by voters. The biggest single impact could come from Initiative 1098
, the proposal to tax income above $200,000 a year for individuals and $400,000 for couples. It would raise $1.58 billion in new net revenues in calendar year 2012. If it passes into law and survives all-but-certain legal challenges, the sum will grow to $2.28 billion in 2013 and higher in future years – even after accounting for tax breaks on property and businesses. Five other initiatives on the ballot erase or limit taxation. Critics of the ballot measures say cuts are coming for many state services if voters approve the measures. And voter passage of an income tax is unlikely to provide a counterbalance, because lawsuits will delay the arrival of any new revenue.
- 08/30/2010"Benton County move costs, savings depend on alternative" -- Yakima Herald
by Seattle-based Entrix Inc.
, suggests three alternatives and related costs for moving the Benton County seat from Prosser
. Benton County
voters will vote on the move in the Nov. 2 election. The first alternative involves moving to Kennewick the minimum number of offices and employees required under state law
for a county seat. The second alternative is moving everything, all the jobs and services in Prosser's Benton County Courthouse, to Kennewick. The third alternative moves some Prosser personnel to Kennewick but keeps a "satellite office" in Prosser. Moving the county seat has been advocated by retired judge Fred Staples, who got it on the ballot by collecting nearly 24,000 petition signatures.
"Observatory hearing set for Wednesday " -- Aberdeen Daily World - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
The National Science Foundation
is holding a public hearing about the environmental impacts of some proposed ocean observatories
, also known as "endurance arrays", off Grays Harbor and Newport, Ore. They will consist of buoys connected to mooring gear by a system of cables. The observatories will have various tools to collect data and transmit it to scientists in real time. The information will be available to download from the Internet. Three observatories will be placed off Grays Harbor and three more will be placed near Newport, Ore. The Ocean Observatories Initiative (OOI)
is a cooperative program between the National Science Foundation and the Consortium for Ocean Leadership
, Some $386.4 million in federal funding is being directed at the initiative. Public comment will be accepted until September 15, 2010 on the draft Site-Specific Environmental Assessment (Draft SSEA)
- 08/29/2010"Canadian mining firm to begin exploratory drilling near Mount St. Helens" -- Longview Daily News
North of Mount Saint Helens
, Ascot Resources
of Vancouver, British Columbia, plans to drill 14 holes between 1,500 and 2,000 feet deep to confirm tests done in the area in the 1970s. The previous tests included 100 drill holes and showed high levels of copper, gold, silver and molybdenum. The potential mine site is nearly 900 acres in the Green River Valley near Goat Mountain, just outside the northern boundary of the 110,000-acre Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument. Previous plans by General Moly
, an Idaho mining company, to mine on the site 12 miles north of the crater were denied by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management(BLM)
in 2008. Half the mineral rights are owned privately, the other half are owned by the BLM, so a federal lease is crucial for any mining to proceed. According to the U.S. Forest Service
, Ascot does not need permission for the tests and therefore there is no mechanism for public comment. The Forest Service instead issued a "letter of concurrence", stating it had worked with Ascot to ensure the area is protected during the planned drilling. The Gifford Pinchot Task Force
is one group that opposed the previous mining plans and is also opposed to Ascot's exploratory drilling.
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