The Latest Bounce


The Bureau of Land Management recently approved a mining company’s plans to explore for gold near South Pass, Wyo., a major historic point on the Emigrant Trail (HCN, 5/16/05: Gold mining proposed in historic South Pass area). Fremont Gold will dig 200 10-by-20-foot test pits about five miles from the pass. If the company finds sufficient amounts of gold, it could apply to the BLM for permits to begin full-scale placer mining in streams and washes in the area.

City councilman and stand-up comedian Eric Griego was defeated in his bid to unseat Albuquerque mayor Martin "Marty" Chavez, 26 percent to 47 percent (HCN, 10/3/05: A smart-growth bulldog). Griego, a Democrat, has aggressively pushed to limit sprawl in the city; Chavez, also a Democrat, outspent Griego 3-to-1 and financed much of his $1.1 million campaign with contributions from the construction and real estate community.

Bankrupt mining company W.R. Grace Co. sent letters to about 700 Libby, Mont., residents with asbestos-related disease, informing them that they had been misdiagnosed (HCN, 2/21/05: Where were the environmentalists when Libby needed them most?). Saying that an audit of the patients’ health records indicates that they may not be as sick as originally thought — or may not even be sick at all — the company is reducing patients’ medical benefits. In response, Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., introduced a bill that would require Grace to start a $250 million health-care trust fund for asbestos victims in Libby. Baucus told The Associated Press, "We’ve always feared Grace would bail out of their health-care responsibilities."

Foreign farm-labor broker Global Horizons will pay nearly a quarter-million dollars in penalties, back wages and taxes to settle a case brought against it by the state of Washington (HCN, 9/19/05: In the orchards, questions about immigration reform). Last year, Global Horizons brought 150 Thai "guest workers" to the U.S. to pick fruit in the Yakima Valley, but the state alleged that the company violated numerous immigration and labor regulations. The settlement requires the company to hire qualified U.S. workers before "importing" workers from abroad, and to submit to independent monitoring of its treatment of workers.

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