Small town clash over mine Yet tiffany's and libby are oddly linked.They're opponents across a geographic and cultural divide in a dispute over a proposed copper and silver mine in montana's remote cabinet mountains. Despite its reliance on metals and minerals, tiffany's has sided with people opposing the mine.It's an alliance that is"Driven by customer concern"And the company's belief that mining"Should be conducted responsibly,"Tiffany's president and ceo michael kowalski says in response to written questions. The rock creek mine, which would tunnel underneath a federally protected wilderness area, has long been a target of environmentalists.They fear it will pollute the clark fork river and, further downstream, lake pend oreille in idaho's panhandle.Also at risk, they say, are threatened wildlife species such as bull trout and grizzly bears. But the battle over the mine and its estimated 100 million ounces of silver and 1.1 billion pounds of copper is more than just a squabble between conservationists and big industry.It symbolizes the struggle over the west's future economy, and whether it should focus on tourism and recreation or on traditional industries such as mining and timber. Tiffany's jumped into the fray last month when kowalski denounced the project in an Tiffany Jewellery Sets ad in the washington post.Forest service, which gave the mine a preliminary green light last year after a lengthy review. "This huge mine would discharge millions of gallons of waste water per day, conveying pollutants to the clark fork river and ultimately into lake pend oreille in idaho, a national treasure in its own right,"Kowalski wrote. "Wildlife already struggling to survive would face new perils. " Kowalski's criticism of etrio Necklaces the mine has energized its critics and angered its supporters. Libby has absorbed more than its share of blows. Hundreds of residents have been sickened and killed by lung disease brought on by asbestos released by nearby vermiculite mining.And it is suffering from a 14% jobless rate and the closing last year of a plywood plant that was the town's largest employer.So there's some resentment that a distant corporation catering to the rich has attacked a project that could revive one of montana's most battered local economies. "Tiffany's Tiffany Jewellery Sets has made millions of dollars on minerals, and we feel it's pretty hypocritical,"Says john konzen, a county commissioner and mine supporter. "The county is desperate for economic relief.The rock creek mine would give 25 years of economic stability to this area. " Fifty miles to the west, tiffany's intervention is welcomed in sandpoint, idaho.A bustling community on the shore of lake pend oreille, the state's largest and deepest lake, sandpoint was recently named the nation's best small town by sunset magazine. The former timber town is a classic"New west"Revival story.Drawn by the beautiful lake, a ski resort, and glorious views of the cabinet and selkirk mountains, a flood of newcomers has brought new economic etrio Watches Sale vitality. Sandpoint's city council, county commissioners and more than 300 businesses oppose the mine because many fear it will pollute the lake, their golden goose. The opposition list includes coldwater creek, the retailing company headquartered in sandpoint.Begun in 1984 by two transplanted new yorkers as a boutique, it now employs 3, 000 people in the usa and had more than $500 million in sales last year. "People here have an almost visceral attachment to the lake,"Says dave gunter, a coldwater creek spokesman. "How many communities can say they have this kind of crown jewel in their back yard? " "This is a non-Partisan issue in sandpoint,"Says mary mitchell, who heads up a coalition of mine opponents called the rock creek alliance that has sued to block the mine. "All they have to do is look at lake coeur d'alene. " That lake to the south is heavily polluted by tens of millions of tons of heavy metals, including cadmium, lead and zinc, the products of decades of mining upstream. Frank duval, ceo of revett silver company, which would run the rock creek mine, says there is no comparison between the old mining practices that polluted lake coeur d'alene and the modern methods his firm will use. The mine's wastewater will be cleansed before entering the clark fork river, he says.Also, the company will take precautions to protect the grizzly bears. Grizzly bear activists say federal requirements that the mine hire biologists and acquire nearly 3, 000 acres of private land for bears will not significantly lessen the threat to the dozen or so grizzlies hanging on in the cabinet wilderness. "It's a wink and a nod and a prayer,"Says louisa willcox, a bear advocate with the natural resources defense council in livingston, mont.Because the mine would be in a wilderness area about a half-Mile wide, it could keep bears from using territory they need to survive.
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