LANSING -- State Rep. Mike Lahti (D-Hancock) today told Keweenaw Now he plans to meet with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment (MDNRE) concerning the recent letter to Michigan legislators requesting an amendment suspending sulfide and uranium mining be added to a proposed Great Lakes oil and gas drilling ban.*
The letter asks legislators to hear the concerns of Upper Peninsula residents opposed to the Rio Tinto-Kennecott Eagle Project sulfide mine and to the potential dangers it poses to natural resources, especially water quality. It says state regulators, in particular the former Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ), now the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment (MDNRE), did not follow the law in granting permits to the Kennecott Eagle Project on the Yellow Dog Plains near Marquette and Big Bay.**
Lahti said he plans to arrange a meeting with the DNRE this week to ask them for a response to the letter.
"These are strong statements (in the letter)," Lahti said, "and I'm just going to ask them to respond to these accusations."
Lahti said he had spoken with the DNRE in the past concerning the Kennecott mine and he had also attended, in Big Bay, a presentation by Jack Parker, a mining expert, whose 2009 report titled KEMC Eagle Project: A Fraudulent Permit Application? outlines severe problems with the underground portion of Kennecott's Eagle Mine permit application. The report is mentioned in this letter. Parker is also working on a new report which continues to warn that the mine, as presently designed, will be unstable.***
Lahti said he wouldn't support adding an amendment on the sulfide mining to the proposed Great Lakes oil and gas drilling ban, but he wants to hear what the DNRE has to say about the accusations in the letter. He intends to invite Rep. Steve Lindberg (D-Marquette), who represents the 109th District, to attend the meeting with the DNRE.
* The Joint House Resolution GGG, introduced by Rep. Dan Scripps (D-Leland), on June 16, 2010, proposes an amendment to the state constitution of 1963, to prohibit the drilling of a well for the exploration or production of oil or natural gas within the Great Lakes or beneath the bottomlands of the Great Lakes. Such an amendment would have to be approved by the people of Michigan in the next general election.
** Click here to read the letter sent to legislators.
***Click here to read Jack Parker's 2009 report.