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 DEQ-Kennecott-comments@michigan.gov

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: www.savethewildup.org.


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

and

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."

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

International Asian Sumi-E Painting Contest, Touring Exhibition opens at Finlandia Oct. 11

Award-winning ink brush paintings like these are part of the 2006 International Asian Sumi-E Painting Contest and Touring Exhibition. This selection of artwork makes its United States premiere Oct. 11 - Nov. 8, 2007, at the Finlandia University Gallery of the Finnish American Heritage Center, Hancock. (Photo courtesy Finlandia University)

HANCOCK -- A four-week exhibition of selected works from the 2006 International Asian Sumi-E Painting Contest and Touring Exhibition is featured Oct. 11 through Nov. 8, 2007, at the Finlandia University Gallery of the Finnish American Heritage Center, Hancock. This selection of the award-winning artwork is making its United States premiere at Finlandia.

An opening reception will be held from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 12, 2007, in the Gallery.

The international juried artworks by Chinese brushwork artists from Japan, Taiwan and the United States were selected from more than 5,000 entries. The exhibit has also appeared at the Kyoto, Japan, Municipal Museum of Art; the Osaka, Japan, Museum of Art; and the Zen-Mountain Institute of Taichung, Taiwan.

Yueh-mei Cheng, Finlandia associate professor of studio arts and director of the International Federation of Asian Culture and Art, traveled to Japan and Taiwan in spring 2006 to serve on the jury selection committee for the 2006 Contest and Touring Exhibition.

"The purpose of the Sumi-E contest and exhibition is to promote art education and foster a sense of beauty through the exhibition of the ink brush paintings of artists from Japan, Taiwan and the United States," Cheng says.

Cheng adds that the International Federation of Asian Culture and Art, the sponsor of the painting contest, aims to advance international cultural exchange and help to build a better and more harmonious global community.

Sumi-E is roughly translated as "watercolor and ink painting." Cheng explains that simplicity and economy of brush strokes are its most outstanding characteristics. She notes that the art of brush painting aims to depict the spirit, rather than the semblance, of an object.

Cheng says she is pleased with the current increase in trans-national multicultural exchange, and she notes a significant increase in the number of people exploring ink painting worldwide.

"Many of my Western students have shown great enthusiasm in learning traditional ink painting," says Cheng. "Their artwork gives us a fresh look into the depth of this art form. I believe ink painting holds great potential to become a new international style. We are experiencing an exciting experimental period in ink painting development right now."

The process of ink painting has developed over thousands of years, deriving its unique character from oriental art. It is a process of observation and meditation, not an imitation or copy of nature, writes Mr. Hong-Ju Li, president of The Federation of Asian Culture and Art, in the preface of a previous Sumi-E Contest and Exhibition catalog.

"Painting starts with a blank sheet of paper. Lines, shapes and colors are added to the blank space. Gradually an image emerges and viewers can visually appreciate it," he explains. "From nothing to a vivid image is a process of creation. Before any image gets created, artists take in all sorts of messages from their surroundings. Their senses get stimulated and their inner worlds get enriched. With vibrant colors, intricate lines and various shapes, they create different images to convey their ideas and feelings."

Cheng further describes the Sumi-E brush painting process, "The artist cultivates and contemplates with vitality and feeling until the object and subject become inseparable and the images flow out of one’s self effortlessly. Painter and media, mind and material, subjective and objective are interacting and penetrating. The inner impetus grows so strong that the images are self-occurring and flow out of the tip of the brush. During this transforming process in the painter's heart, an ink painting comes into being."

Reflecting on the transformative nature of ink painting for both painter and painting, Cheng notes, "Persistently carrying on the pursuit with enthusiasm from heart and soul, detached from the limited and conditional world, the heart is lifted and soaring. Thus, the technique and skill become the unique language of the artist. Reflecting vivid inner visions and personal life experiences, the painting becomes a journey of seeking happiness, self-discovery, and spiritual sublimation. Through constant self-refining and struggling, the painting acquires a happy life, and so does the painter."

The 2006 International Asian Sumi-E Painting Contest and Touring Exhibition is sponsored by Finlandia University, The Federation of Japan NPO Asian Culture and Art, The Federation of Taiwan Asian Culture and Art, The Federation of Hong Kong Asian Culture and Art and The Federation of American Asian Culture and Art.

The Finlandia University Gallery is in the Finnish American Heritage Center, 435 Quincy Street, Hancock. Gallery hours are Monday-Friday 8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m., Wednesday, 8 a.m. – 7 p.m., or by appointment. Please call 487-7500 for more information.

Finlandia's Nordic Film Series to present "War Children" Oct. 11

HANCOCK -- The Finlandia University Finnish American Heritage Center Nordic Film Series continues Thursday, Oct. 11, with the documentary War Children. Showings are at both 2 p.m. and 6 p.m.

Released in 2003, War Children (Sotalapset) traces the fate of seven Finnish children who were evacuated to Sweden during World War II. Looking back, they tell of the pain of separation, the chaos of evacuation, the difficulty of adjusting to life in their new homeland and the renewed sadness of leaving Sweden to return to Finland .

The film is in Finnish with English subtitles. There is no admission charge, but donations are gratefully accepted.

The Finlandia University Finnish American Heritage Center is at 435 Quincy Street in downtown Hancock. For additional information, please call 906-487-7505.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Houghton Keweenaw Conservation District to hold Annual Meeting Oct. 10

The Houghton Keweenaw Conservation District sponsored several beach cleanups as part of the Michigan Coastal Cleanup Sept. 15-16, 2007. Pictured here at Bete Grise North are, from left, Mary Stafford, Nick Wilson, Don Keith, Pat Keith, Bernice Smith and Sue Haralson. (Photo © 2007 Gina Nicholas)

HOUGHTON -- The Houghton Keweenaw Conservation District (HKCD) will hold its Annual Meeting, beginning at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 10, in the first floor conference room of the UPPCO Building, 600 East Lakeshore Drive, Houghton (down the hill from the Library bar and restaurant).

The meeting will include presentations on the District's 2007 Accomplishments and the 2008 Budget Challenge. The Annual Election will also be held for one position on the HKCD Board.

"We are planning a Pot Luck Dinner including pizza and have some quality merchandise for our Silent Auction," said Sue Haralson, HKCD administrator.

For more information call Sue at 482-0214.

The Houghton Keweenaw Conservation District, which began more than 50 years ago, is one of eighty-two districts in the state of Michigan. HKCD helps local people find answers to their land management questions by linking them with natural resource professionals, products and services. A Board of Directors, consisting of elected community volunteers, makes decisions about conservation programs and services and hires qualified staff to conduct and carry them out.

To learn more about HKCD visit their Web site.

Update: Grandma Doors Celebration to be Oct. 12

In front of Hancock's Finnish American Heritage Center, several "Grandma Doors" depict the history of local residents' notable ancestors. (Photo © 2007 Gustavo Bourdieu)

HANCOCK -- The Grandma Doors Celebration, which has been postponed twice because of rainy weather, will be held from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 12, in downtown Hancock. The public is invited to walk and view the doors, enjoy street musicians on every block and taste refreshments at participating businesses along the way.

See the original article, posted Oct. 4, for details, but please note this change of date.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Pulp mill built by Finnish company stirs controversy on Uruguay-Argentina border


By Evelyn Sigot Pavón

ENTRE RIOS PROVINCE, ARGENTINA -- The installation of cellulose pulp plants in Latin America is a currently a controversial problem that involves political, financial and environmental matters.

The most recent and burning conflict over a pulp mill takes place in South America. Since 2002, a dispute between two neighboring countries continues because of the pulp mill built by Botnia, a Finnish company, in Fray Bentos, Uruguay. The plant is situated on the Uruguay River, which constitutes an international border between Uruguay and Argentina.

According to Botnia’s own Web site, the plant was scheduled to open by the end of the third quarter of 2007 but the opening has been delayed.

"To commence commercial production the mill requires a final environmental permit from Uruguayan authorities who are currently finalizing this procedure," Botnia states on their site.*

This photo, taken in April 2006, shows the Botnia pulp mill under construction near the Uruguay River, on the border of Uruguay and Argentina. (Photo © 2006 and courtesy Fundación M'Biguá. Reprinted with permission.)

Argentina considers it illegal to put the pulp mill into operation because it violates the "statute of the Uruguay River." It will seriously impact the water and aquatic fauna, both consumed by human beings. Zone residents are concerned about the consequences that operation of this mill could have in agriculture and tourism.

This kind of cellulose pulp negatively impacts the environment and human health. A month ago, five workers of Botnia’s plant suffered skin and breath system irritation because of possible inhalation of sodium sulfate.

In just one second, the pulp mill is going to take a cubic meter of water from the river and return it with contaminants and carcinogenic substances that will have a disastrous environmental impact, generating both water and air pollution.

The Botnia pulp mill will use about 3.5 million cubic meters of wood per year and will produce 1 million tons of bleached eucalyptus pulp a year.

Uruguay’s position is that the project meets all the required conditions to start operating. Defenders of the plant assure that the success of the project will bring development, improving the region’s economy and generating new jobs. The Uruguayan government gave assurances that the plant will use the best technology to protect the environment and agreed to delay the official inauguration of the Botnia plant until the October 28 presidential election in Argentina.

Botnia affirms its commitment to taking care of the environment and argues that the Fray Bentos plant is the most modern mill of this type in the world. Botnia claims to provide the highest level of technology used by European countries in environmental care, following the regulations of the European Union and Uruguay's legislation. The company ensures that the plant will reuse and recycle raw material to prevent global warming.

Meanwhile, residents from Argentina and Uruguay are still facing the conflict and making demands.** Over the past two years, ecological groups, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and citizens have blocked the National Route 14 and the General San Martin Bridge on the Uruguay River against the operation of the pulp mill.

Residents from Gualeguaychú, NGOs and ecological groups from Argentina cross the San Martin International Bridge. This citizen "mobilization" was summoned by the Environmental Assembly of Gualeguaychú, on Saturday, April 29, 2006, to commemorate the first anniversary of the mobilization against the installation of the cellulose plant in 2005. (Photo © 2006 and courtesy Fundación M'Biguá. Reprinted with permission.)

On Saturday, Sept. 29, 2007, Argentine and Uruguayan leaders held a face-to-face meeting in the United Nations Headquarters in New York and dialogued about cellulose (pulp) plants, in a failed attempt to reach an agreement. There have been no negotiations. Ecological Groups accused Néstor Kirchner, Argentina’s president, of being "soft" and a traitor during the New York meeting. He declared against the re-localization of the pulp mill, noting that the plant has been built and there is nothing to do but wait for a decision from The Hague.*** Because of this, the Citizens' Environmental Assembly of Gualeguaychú decided to block the National Route 14 again.

A group of Argentine and Uruguayan ecologists walk along International Route 135 that joins Colón (Argentina) to Paysandú (Uruguay). They were protesting the installation of the Botnia pulp mill in April 2006. The plant, now built and scheduled to open soon, is still opposed by citizens of both countries, concerned about potential environmental pollution. (Photo © 2006 and courtesy Fundación M'Biguá. Reprinted with permission.)

On Oct. 1, 2007, Kirchner met Entre Ríos governor, Jorge Busti, to discuss the conflict with the Citizens' Environmental Assembly. The blockade was lifted, and the citizens are waiting to hear new offers.

In order to prevent financial interests and bilateral conflicts from becoming the epicenter of this dispute, brother countries must agree to consider the voice of the people by respecting the human right to health, water and air for life, not for commercial resources; by favoring dialogue and communication; and by integrating technology for a social, ecological, political and economic sustainability.

Notes:

* See http://www.metsabotnia.com/en/default.asp?path=204,1490,1491,1541,1546,1878 The site also states, "The forest industry company Oy Metsä-Botnia Ab - marketing name Botnia - was founded in 1973, and it manufactures high quality bleached pulp grades under the name Botnia. Botnia is owned by M-real Oyj, Metsäliitto Osuuskunta, and UPM-Kymmene Oyj."

** Especially, people from Gualeguaychú, the Argentinian locality in Entre Ríos Province, situated on the Uruguay River opposite the Uruguayan city, Fray Bentos, where the plant was built.

*** According to an Oct. 1, 2007, article on Bloomberg.com, "Argentina brought a case against Uruguay to the International Court of Justice in The Hague in May 2006, charging that the construction of the mill violated a 1975 bilateral agreement on the use of the Uruguay river, which runs between the two countries." See Bloomberg.com.

Editor's Note: The newest contributor to Keweenaw Now and author of this article, Evelyn Sigot Pavón, is a student at the National University of Entre Ríos (Universidad Nacional de Entre Ríos) in Argentina. She is completing a degree in Social Communications with a specialization in Cultural Process. Evelyn is also working on ecology issues with M'Biguá, a non-governmental organization in Paraná, in Entre Ríos Province, Argentina.

"I am writing about ecological issues to let other people know about my country and current happenings," Evelyn writes.

New Carpooling option for the Keweenaw

HOUGHTON -- Looking for a ride? Want company on a long drive? Going downstate for the weekend? To Marquette for the evening? Commuting from L'Anse? Check out the Keweenaw community ride board set up through icarpool.com. This free service matches riders and rides for local or long distance travel, one way or round trip, daily commutes or one-time rides to events.

If you have an MTU email address you can register with the Michigan Tech group, but anyone in the community can register with the Keweenaw group. You can register with one group, both groups or no group. You can still get/offer rides with just a general registration. Rides will be found from any group (even if you are not a member of either one) unless you say that you only want rides from a restricted group.

For music (and other events) you can enter the name, date and location of the event to link with others who are planning to go. This is a great way to meet other people who enjoy your favorite bands! When you register, you may wish to enter "music list" in the registration comment box.

To join, register at icarpool.com. If you wish, select the Keweenaw community. Your comments will be bounced to organizer Sarah Green and back to you to complete the process.

Once you're registered with icarpool, just enter when and where you want to go (and your favorite radio station!) and you will be linked with possible matches to make your own arrangements.

To join, register at icarpool.com. For more information contact Sarah Green at sgreen@mtu.edu.