News

In-Depth Information On Mining Issues

Posted 06/06/2005

MINING INFORMATION EXTRAS

Previous newsletters have dealt with the preservation issued raised by the Louisiana Environmental Action Network, the Tulane Environmental Law Center, in conjunction with the Austin Civil War Round Table.

These groups have cooperated to question mining operations on the site of the Mansfield Battlefield. The Louisiana Attorney General has expressed interest in the preservation of the site with a specific focus on Louisiana?s Unmarked Human Burial Sites Preservation Act.

Angelle Davis, secretary of the Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism, in a letter dated April 8, indicated to an attorney representing LEAN that the Office of State Parks ?will continue to pursue and support acquisition opportunities that add to the total battlefield acreage preserved for historic interpretation. In her letter she indicated that the companies in the mining partnership studied the area to be mined and identified ?properties of archaeological and historic significance that might be adversely affected? by the construction of the mine and power plant. She also said that ?From the outset, it was noted that the archaeological component of the battlefield would be rather ephemeral because of the short duration of the battle.?

Davis further indicated that the state?s historic preservation officer had notified the Dolet Hills Lignite Mining Venture that there was ?a high probability that unmarked human burials may be present in the area of the Mansfield Civil War Battlefield.? And, she indicated that to the knowledge of the department, ?no discovery of an unmarked human burial has been reported to law enforcement agencies or the Board.?

[Editor?s Note: Anyone who has seen the giant shovel in action will easily see that the equipment operator could not be expected to identify human burial remains in the mammoth bucket. It is likely the remains have been chewed up with the rest of the earth.]

Joel Waltzer, the attorney to whom Ms. Davis addressed her letter, forwarded us a copy of his reply. He reviews the Louisiana Unmarked Human Burial Sites Preservation Act and contends that the Legislature intended to protect burial sites?so much so that ?it elevated protection of unmarked burials over the interests of economic development.? Waltzer noted that the Act exempts ?the use of land for purposes of farming, cattle raising, timber growing, and other similar surface uses that will not result in the disturbance of human skeletal remains through excavation or other activities.?

Waltzer continued to quote from the act, ?Any activity that MAY disturb the unmarked burial site, human skeletal remains, or burial artifacts associated with the site shall immediately cease on discovery. . .No activity which will disturb the unmarked burial site shall resume until the board [ Louisiana Unmarked Burial Sites Board] has issued a permit governing [ its] disposition.

The attorney asks, ?When must Dolet Hills stop excavating the battlefield? The answer, when Dolet Hills may disturb an unmarked burial site. Not only do we know that it may, we know that it will.

Louisiana Department of Natural Resources Secretary Scott Angelle apparently takes the position that concerned parties should work together to solve the problem and indicates that he, too, believes that concerns about unmarked human burial sites should be taken to the board.

In addition to copies of the letters from Waltzer, Davis and Angelle, we received a copy of correspondence from the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation in Lakewood, Colorado, asking that the EPA review permits for the lignite mine and memoranda of agreement for its undertakings and that discussions be initiated with the ACHP and State Historic Preservation Officer to determine if the agreements should be amended. This correspondence, sent under the name of Lee Keating, Senior Program Analyst, Western Office of Federal Program Agencies, also suggested that Waltzer and the American Battlefield Protection Program of the National Park Service be included in discussions.

We are indebted to LEAN, the Tulane Environmental Law Center and the Austin Civil War Round Table for initiating this new thrust for preservation of the battlefield. We will keep you informed regarding developments in the ?battle of correspondence? and talks that we hope will be initiated.

The Department of Natural Resources has asked that anyone interested in Mansfield to respond. If you would like to voice your opinion to the Louisiana DNR, you may do so by writing Scott A. Angelle, Secretary, Department of Natural Resources, P.O. Box 94396, Baton Rouge, LA 70804-9396. MINING INFORMATION EXTRAS

Previous newsletters have dealt with the preservation issued raised by the Louisiana Environmental Action Network, the Tulane Environmental Law Center, in conjunction with the Austin Civil War Round Table. These groups have cooperated to question mining operations on the site of the Mansfield Battlefield. The Louisiana Attorney General has expressed interest in the preservation of the site with a specific focus on Louisiana?s Unmarked Human Burial Sites Preservation Act.

Angelle Davis, secretary of the Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism, in a letter dated April 8, indicated to an attorney representing LEAN that the Office of State Parks ?will continue to pursue and support acquisition opportunities that add to the total battlefield acreage preserved for historic interpretation. In her letter she indicated that the companies in the mining partnership studied the area to be mined and identified ?properties of archaeological and historic significance that might be adversely affected? by the construction of the mine and power plant. She also said that ?From the outset, it was noted that the archaeological component of the battlefield would be rather ephemeral because of the short duration of the battle.?

Davis further indicated that the state?s historic preservation officer had notified the Dolet Hills Lignite Mining Venture that there was ?a high probability that unmarked human burials may be present in the area of the Mansfield Civil War Battlefield.? And, she indicated that to the knowledge of the department, ?no discovery of an unmarked human burial has been reported to law enforcement agencies or the Board.?

[Editor?s Note: Anyone who has seen the giant shovel in action will easily see that the equipment operator could not be expected to identify human burial remains in the mammoth bucket. It is likely the remains have been chewed up with the rest of the earth.]

Joel Waltzer, the attorney to whom Ms. Davis addressed her letter, forwarded us a copy of his reply. He reviews the Louisiana Unmarked Human Burial Sites Preservation Act and contends that the Legislature intended to protect burial sites?so much so that ?it elevated protection of unmarked burials over the interests of economic development.? Waltzer noted that the Act exempts ?the use of land for purposes of farming, cattle raising, timber growing, and other similar surface uses that will not result in the disturbance of human skeletal remains through excavation or other activities.?

Waltzer continued to quote from the act, ?Any activity that MAY disturb the unmarked burial site, human skeletal remains, or burial artifacts associated with the site shall immediately cease on discovery. . .No activity which will disturb the unmarked burial site shall resume until the board [ Louisiana Unmarked Burial Sites Board] has issued a permit governing [ its] disposition.

The attorney asks, ?When must Dolet Hills stop excavating the battlefield? The answer, when Dolet Hills may disturb an unmarked burial site. Not only do we know that it may, we know that it will.

Louisiana Department of Natural Resources Secretary Scott Angelle apparently takes the position that concerned parties should work together to solve the problem and indicates that he, too, believes that concerns about unmarked human burial sites should be taken to the board.

In addition to copies of the letters from Waltzer, Davis and Angelle, we received a copy of correspondence from the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation in Lakewood, Colorado, asking that the EPA review permits for the lignite mine and memoranda of agreement for its undertakings and that discussions be initiated with the ACHP and State Historic Preservation Officer to determine if the agreements should be amended. This correspondence, sent under the name of Lee Keating, Senior Program Analyst, Western Office of Federal Program Agencies, also suggested that Waltzer and the American Battlefield Protection Program of the National Park Service be included in discussions.

We are indebted to LEAN, the Tulane Environmental Law Center and the Austin Civil War Round Table for initiating this new thrust for preservation of the battlefield. We will keep you informed regarding developments in the ?battle of correspondence? and talks that we hope will be initiated.

CONTACT INFORMATION -- TO VOICE YOUR OPINION

The Department of Natural Resources has asked that anyone interested in Mansfield to respond. If you would like to voice your opinion to the Louisiana DNR, you may do so by writing Scott A. Angelle, Secretary, Department of Natural Resources, P.O. Box 94396, Baton Rouge, LA 70804-9396. Telephone: 225-342-2710

ANGELLE DAVIS - Secretary, Office of Culture, Recreation & Tourism, State of Louisiana, P.O. Box 94361, Baton Rouge, LA 70804-9361 Phone: 225-342-8115