Thursday, October 11, 2007

MDEQ deadline for public comments on proposed Kennecott sulfide mine is Oct. 17, 2007

Editor's Note: The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) held public hearings in September on Kennecott Minerals' Eagle Project, a proposed nickel and copper mine and associated processing equipment to be built on the Yellow Dog Plains near Marquette. The public comment period on the application for this sulfide mining project has a deadline of 5 p.m. Oct. 17, 2007. Several Keweenaw residents attended the Sept. 10 hearing held at Northern Michigan University (NMU) in Marquette. The L'Anse Sentinel published an excellent article on the hearing by Sentinel Editor Barry Drue on Sept. 12.

According to the Sentinel article, "A six-person panel of state environmental and natural resources officials couldn’t have heard it more clearly Monday night in Marquette: hundreds of sulfide mining opponents packed the huge Great Lakes rooms at Northern Michigan University.

"A stream of opponents of the Kennecott Eagle proposal spoke against the potential pollution of sulfide mining, with applause erupting after nearly every speaker."

Opponents of Kennecott's Eagle Project sulfide mine applaud a speaker during the Sept. 10, 2007, public hearing held at Northern Michigan University in Marquette. (Photo © 2007 Barry Drue and courtesy L'Anse Sentinel)

The Sentinel staff generously shared some of their photos of the event, which we are publishing here with comments from Copper Country residents Ted Soldan, a member of FOLK (Friends of the Land of Keweenaw), and Paul Campbell, both of whom attended the Sept. 10 hearing in Marquette.

By Ted Soldan:

MARQUETTE -- NMU's September 10 public hearing on the Kennecott Mine permit was packed with people. Of those that spoke, most were opposed to the mine. On the way into the large room, participants were handed cards and were asked to fill them out, especially if they wanted to speak. Once the meeting got started, the moderator (a retired judge who was not from the MDEQ) called the names of the speakers from the audience one at a time.

Opponents of the proposed sulfide mine carry signs and banners in a peaceful outdoor demonstration at Northern Michigan University in Marquette before the MDEQ hearing held there on Sept. 10, 2007. (Photo © 2007 Barry Drue and courtesy L'Anse Sentinel)

The speaker then walked to the center of the room, stood at a podium, and identified himself or herself. The decision makers from the Department of Environmental Quality sat in the front of the room and listened to the speaker. The moderator timed each speaker and issued warnings when the time was nearly up.

Several members of FOLK (Friends of the Land of Keweenaw) attended the meeting, and most spoke on a variety issues -- from the mismanagement of the Otter River watershed to the mismanagement of a mine in the suffered subsidence near Ishpeming to ideas for a compromise on the permitting of the mine.

There were two speakers that were in favor of the mine, while everyone else spoke against it, often with voices shaking with emotion. The Keweenaw Bay Indian Community was well represented at the meeting, and several members of the tribe spoke.

Keweenaw Bay Indian Community (KBIC) member John Mantila expresses opposition to the potential sulfide mine. (Photo © 2007 Barry Drue and courtesy L'Anse Sentinel)

Many at the podium did not appear to be used to public speaking and seemed fearful about the whole process; but get up they did, one by one, and said their piece.

The public hearing process does not end until October 17. Letters can still be sent to the MDEQ and other decision makers before that date. To write directly to the MDEQ, address your letter as follows:

DEQ/DNR Kennecott Comments
Office of Geological Survey
P.O. Box 30256
Lansing, Michigan 48909-7756

Or e-mail your comments to

You can also write directly to Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm:

Governor Jennifer M. Granholm
P.O. Box 30013
Lansing, Michigan 48909

A good source of information on the sulfide mining issue, ideas for letters and addresses of Michigan decision-makers can be found at:

Visit the DEQ Web site for links to documents related to the Kennecott application.

By Paul Campbell:

Can we the people of Michigan unequivocally give our trust to the MDEQ? I can't.

Reasons why:

The recently disclosed Mining Report, (Crown Pillar Stability, that was critical of Kennecott's engineering study) was conveniently "misplaced" by the Mining Group Leader, Joe Maki of the MDEQ.* Reinstating the same leader (after an investigation) for this critical project really does not boost my confidence level that other serious lapses (cover-ups) will not occur.

The second example happen a few years ago. This concerns Rule 323.1098, Antidegradation Demonstration. In reading FOIA material from the MDEQ on a project here in the Keweenaw, I found that upper-level policy makers had no clue of the procedures or the true intent of this law. The reasons/justifications given were purely economic and had no basis in law. This borders on malfeasance.

How many other permits have they "Rubber Stamped"?

For the MDEQ to permit and oversee this flawed Eagle Project is going to be a monument to their stupidity!

Editor's Postscript:

See a July 30, 2007, article on Save the Wild UP on objections to the engineering study.

See the DEQ Web site for links to a number of reports and documents on the Kennecott project, including the March 1, 2007, entry with links to two reports on the structural integrity of the mine, by one of the DEQ's contractors on the Mining Team, that were not properly made available for public review. The reports are:

Technical Report - Crown Pillar Subsidence and Hydrologic Stability Assessment for the Proposed Eagle Mine


Technical Memorandum dated May 22, 2006 from David Sainsbury, Itasca Consulting Group, Inc.

Because of this, on March 1, 2007, the DEQ withdrew its proposed decision to approve a permit for the proposed Eagle Project Mine and postponed the public hearings scheduled for March. They were held in September 2007.

After the Sept. 10 hearing, Save the Wild UP reported, "Turn-out to the Marquette hearing was so high, MDEQ staff took testimony for 2 hours beyond the 9:30pm advertised end of the hearing. In roughly 9 hours of testimony, only 14 individuals spoke in favor of the project, with 112 expressing opposition."

1 comment:

dn said...

This is a very important issue for everyone that lives in or visits the U.P. Please make your voice heard.