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10/18/22  8:56 am
Commenter: Heidi Berthoud Virginia Community Rights Network Friends of Buckingham

Prove it First - Do no harm

Prove It First


We have asked both NASEM and SAC to please take a look at ‘Prove It First’ law. We submitted comments on July 20, 2022 which included a request to look into these protections for Virginia. Has anyone from NASEM and SAC reached out to the Prove It First Coalition? Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness in Minnesota are centering this issue and can be reached via  Also, check out this page: 


From their website, the article, “5 things to know about Prove it First”: 

Prove It First is a profoundly commonsense bill that would simply require mining companies to prove that there has been at least one copper-sulfide mine (as written for Minnesota) in North America that has operated for 10 years and that has been closed for ten years, without causing pollution… It is based on a Wisconsin law that blocked all new sulfide mining projects in the state. In 1998, the Wisconsin legislature passed - with overwhelming bipartisan support - a Prove It First bill that was signed into law by a Republican governor. For 20 years, no new sulfide mine broke ground in Wisconsin. The simple reason was that no sulfide mining project could prove that it would not pollute. Unfortunately, the law was repealed by Governor Scott Walker in 2018.


Check out this 2 minute video:


Dr Steven Emerman, biophysicist, who was on the long list of experts that we requested to be on the NASEM committee, and who spoke to SAC, introduced us to Prove It First. We incorporated it into our local Buckingham proposed rights-based Toxic Trespass ordinance. We feel it would benefit all communities and should be incorporated at the state level as well.The Virginia Environmental Justice law is also incorporated into the ordinance. 


This entire Community Bill of Rights is a paradigm shift in how to approach the ecological disasters we are faced with. Fifty years of environmental regulations have brought us to the climate emergency, which still needs to be acknowledged from the highest levels of governance. We are doing our part at the local level. Let’s also assert this at the state level. Please enter this into the SAC report.


Please read this section from the proposed Buckingham Toxic Trespass Bill, starting on page 6, Section 7. Section 7.1.1 is based on Prove It First, and Section 7.1.2 is the Environmental Justice piece. This ordinance was modeled after existing law enacted by the town of Halifax in 2008 to protect against uranium mining. It was updated by adding Prove It First and Environmental Justice sections.

Section 7—Statements of Law – Scope of Corporate Powers Within the County of Buckingham

Section 7.1. Required Documentation Prior to Issuance of Permits for Metallic Mining

7.1.1    It shall be unlawful for any corporation to engage in metallic mining activities within the County of Buckingham prior to the submission of all reports from all state and federal environmental and health agencies as well as judicial findings in court cases related to at least one metallic mine that is similar in scope and purpose to what is proposed for Buckingham County, and which had operated in the United States for at least ten years and has subsequently not been operational for at least ten years. Any information contained in these reports indicating that toxic trespass, as defined by this ordinance, has resulted from that mining activity shall disqualify an applicant from receiving a metallic mining permit.

7.1.2    Applications for metallic mining permits shall not be reviewed or acted upon until a full and complete Environmental Justice review (guided by NEPA and Article 12, the Virginia Environmental Justice Act) is submitted to Buckingham County. The results of these assessments shall show definitively that no disadvantaged, poor, minority or marginalized community, municipality or neighborhood in Buckingham County would suffer toxic trespass, as defined by this ordinance. Failure to supply this or any of the required reports shall disqualify an applicant from receiving a permit that would allow metallic mining.

Section 7.2. Toxic Trespass. (AKA “Poisoning”) The deposition of toxic substances or potentially toxic substances used in or resulting from metallic mining within the body of any resident of the County of Buckingham or into any ecosystem in the County’s jurisdiction, including but not limited to the James River watershed, is declared a form of trespass, and is hereby prohibited.

Thank you for your service to the CommonWealth.

We speak for the Virginia Community Rights Network (VACRN) and Friends of Buckingham (FoB), who are partnered in the work of protecting Buckingham and Virginia from the ravages of gold/metallic mining through the adoption of rights-based ordinances and local land use ordinances.

Please take this information into account in this study. 

Heidi Dhivya Berthoud President VACRN
Mindy Zlotnick  Secretary Treasurer VACRN
Chad Oba President, FoB
Kenda Hanuman  Chair Gold Mining Committee, FoB


CommentID: 190469