Ninth Circuit puts hold on expansion of the big Smoky Canyon phosphate open pit mine

Successful appeal by the Greater Yellowstone Coalition sends case back to district court-

Federal appeals court blocks mine expansion. By Rebecca Boone. AP.

I was told that

In summary, the appellate court:
1.  Issued a stay of mine development activities;
2.  Ruled that the Idaho magistrate judge erred in disregarding GYC’s demonstration of harm to the Sage Creek roadless area from mine develoment activities;
3.  Sent the case back to the magistrate judge for reconsideration of the preliminary injunction issue in light of the threat of harm to the roadless area;
4.  Ruled that GYC had raised very serious questions on the merits; and
5.  Provided that any future appeals in this litigation will go back to the same 9th Circuit panel.

Earlier on this issue


  1. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    Governor Otter will be so sad 😆 The welfare of the Simplot Corporation has always been a great concern of his. The rest of Idaho losses their jobs and the outdoors is trashed on behalf of interests like this corporation.

  2. kt Avatar

    How, oh how, will Simplot be able to fertilize enough crops to grow enough “feed” for “finishing” all those welfare public lands beef cows coming off the public lands in Owyhee County to spend their last 18 weeks getting pumped with hormones and antibiotics from eating all those nice phosphate-fertilized crops like corn that makes cows sick so they have to be antibioticked to such levels that the disease germs become antibiotic resistant and so humans given the same atibiotics die?

    And speaking of germs and Idaho stockpeople: I wonder if the Idaho Department of Ag and the U of I Caine Vet Lab are involved in overseeing antibiotic use on such feedlot beef finishing facilities? You know, like the researchers paid in Butch Otter’s Idaho to keep claiming that bighorn sheep spontaneously self-combust, or something – but never no never ever die from contact with domestic sheep? Some of THAT kind of oversight? Antibiotic-shmantiobiotic – it’s all one big study of rapid evolutionary adaptation, so to speak …?

    Maybe in the next EIS analysis, Simplot can pay the EIS Contractor to explore ALL the adverse effects caused by the use of the phosphate – to grow a methane-emitting, water-sucking and destroying (including during their stint on public lands – as Simplot is the largest public lands grazer in the Nation), weed-spreading Beef — “finishing” crop?

  3. Virginia Avatar

    My lack of knowledge about this subject is immense, but last week I flew over the Bingham Canyon open pit copper mine southwest of Salt Lake City. The enormous ugly hole in the ground that is an open pit mine is hard to wrap your mind around until you see it from above. Based on that sight, I am happy that this open pit mine has been put on hold, but it sounds as though it might go through eventually despite this ruling. Did I read on this blog in the past that Otter is related to the Simplot family? If so, will this impact your dear governor’s pocketbook? It sounds as though he has been having some fits recently over the legislature not following his instructions.

  4. B Williams Avatar
    B Williams

    Although Gov Otter was once married (now divorced) into the family, he has no ties financially to the company. He even refuses to live in the Gov mansion that Mr. Simplot donated just for that use.

    One thing he is thinking of is the economy. There are 560 jobs (mine & plant) that will go away if the mine is shut down. What other work is there in those areas? These numbers are not counting the jobs that will be cut in other areas of the country due to the lack of production. The production from this plant goes to CA to make other products.

    He is also thinking of the environment, since Simplot has done great reclaimation work at Smoky in the past.


Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan’s Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of “Hiking Idaho.” He also wrote “Beyond the Tetons” and “Backpacking Wyoming’s Teton and Washakie Wilderness.” He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

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Ralph Maughan