Lawsuits, meetings continue

The saga of a proposed sulfide mine on the Yellow Dog Plains continues with lawsuits, permits and events.

Pending lawsuits

The National Wildlife Federation (NWF), the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community, the Huron Mountain Club and the Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve (YDWP) filed petitions for a contested case with the State of Michigan Office of Administrative Hearings and Rules in response to the approval of the Part 632 Mining Permit application and the Groundwater Discharge Permit application for the Kennecott Eagle Mine on the Yellow Dog Plains.
These cases have been consolidated and Kennecott Minerals has petitioned and been approved for their intervention. Dates for the contested case proceeding have been set for April 28, 2008 and slated for a ten-day hearing. At the end of the hearing, the Administrative Law Judge will file his findings and ruling, and forward it to Director Steven Chester of the DEQ for the final decision. Administrative Law Judge Patterson presiding.
The NWF, the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community, the Huron Mountain Club and the YDWP filed suit against the Michigan DEQ in response to the approval of the Air Quality Permit application for the Kennecott Eagle Mine on the Yellow Dog Plains. No dates have been established for the hearing. Judge Manderfield is presiding in the Ingham County Circuit Court; he ruled against the State of Michigan in the original Administrative Completeness Hearing in 2006.

 

DNR approves use of public land

The DNR approved the lease to Kennecott for the use of state land to house the Eagle Mine facilities and portal to the mine. The DNR did stipulate that no ground breaking will occur until all contested case activities are finalized and the EPA Underground Injection Control permit is approved. Legal action against the DNR must be filed within twenty-one days of the DNR approval or by February 28. This action will be filed through circuit court.

 

Underground Injection Control Permit

Kennecott’s application with the EPA concerning its groundwater discharge methodology is in limbo and all await notice of deficiency or a preliminary decision and public comment timelines.

 

Coaster Brook Trout listing petition

Sierra Club and the Huron Mountain Club filed a petition to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to begin the investigative process of listing the Coaster Brook Trout as a Threatened and Endangered Species. This petition, filed in February 2007, was not addressed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) in a timely manner and the petitioners filed suit because of the delay. The petitioners and the USFWS are in discussion about when USFWS would be prepared to issue a decision regarding the original listing petition.

 

Alger-Delta meeting in Big Bay

Alger-Delta Electric Cooperative called a meeting to discuss benefits of upgrades to the area. Conversation with Alger-Delta officials indicated that Kennecott Minerals has a signed contract under the Rural Electrification Act to build a high-power line to its proposed mining site on the Yellow Dog Plains. This contract was signed without co-op member notice or public comment.

 

Kennecott Community Advisory Group

Kennecott has reconvened quarterly Community Advisory Group (CAG) meetings. These are meetings the public may attend, but may not offer comment.
These meetings are held to inform a group of hand-selected community leaders about Kennecott’s plans. The public has been allowed to attend, but repeatedly has been denied the ability for comment.
Attendees determined that their right for public comment should be allowed and they took it. Two Kennecott officials and two other CAG members stayed to listen; all other members of the CAG left. At this meeting, Michelle Halley of NWF resigned from the CAG group.
“I believe that KEMC’s applications are fatally flawed; the company has chosen to ignore these flaws, which endanger both the environment and human health, including that of workers,” Halley said. “…Further, the name ‘Community Advisory Group’ is a misnomer.
“The company has ignored the opinions of the vast majority of this community, and while this group is made of upstanding citizens and honest people, this group does not represent the public’s views and opinions on this matter.
“The KEMC-imposed artificiality of the community component of this group is a charade in which I will not participate.”

 

Economic opportunities meeting

The Lake Superior Community Partnership and Kennecott Minerals will present to the Big Bay community at 4:00 p.m. on March 3 to help promote “economic opportunity” in the provision of goods and services to Kennecott in its development and running of the Eagle Mine on the Yellow Dog Plains. The public is asked to attend.

— Cynthia Pryor

Editor’s Note: Pryor is the executive director of the Yellow Dog Watershed Partnership. For details, visit www.savethewildup.com

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