County makes the right moves |

County makes the right moves

The Board of County Commissioners made Summit County proud this week with its two unanimous and historic votes to ban both cyanide heap leach mining and smoking in public places.

Commissioners Bill Wallace, Gary Lindstrom and Tom Long took the cyanide issue a step further by banning use of all similar reagents to extract precious metals from low-grade ore.

In one sense, both votes were easy because of vast public support to act accordingly.

Still, there has been significant pressure to back off the smoking ban and each commissioner, at one point or another, had to struggle with the issue of personal freedom versus public safety.

And mining industry lobbyists did their best to stymie the cyanide mining ban. Their hopes rested with the Countywide Planning Commission’s recommendation to regulate the use of cyanide heap leach mining with a conditional use permit, instead.

In our view, conditional use permits are too negotiable and are worthless if a heap leach system fails and poisons water and earth. Besides, it’s not like Summit County is in the mining business anymore.

But because the area was heavily mined for gold, it is a candidate some day for another shot at the precious metal with the development of better ways to extract it. Cyanide heap leach is just that.

Up until this point, Summit County was one of two counties in the state that did not have local mining regulations.

As for the smoking ban, the discussions in before the Breckenridge and Frisco town councils bear watching. Breckenridge appears to be forging ahead on the county model that limits exceptions.

Frisco is going 180 degrees the other way in considering separate smoking rooms with separate ventilation systems. That could mean the public restroom.

We think a compromise might be an outdoor, heated, open-air smoking area. Allowing it to take place indoors is too big of a loophole and does not necessarily protect workers from smoke.

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