Saturday, February 26, 2011

Jack Parker: Letter to EPA on Kennecott haul road

Editor's Note: Jack Parker, a mining engineer from Baltic, Mich., and a Keweenaw Now guest writer, sent the following letter to Ross Micham of Region 5 Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Feb. 20, 2011. The letter was acknowledged and forwarded to a scientist who is working on the wetlands issues related to the Eagle project. It is reprinted here at Mr. Parker's request.

Good morning Ross:

In times of trouble I turn to you again for help. You seem to know your way around, and to have retained your integrity.

As you probably guessed it concerns the Kennecott haul road and political pressure on the EPA to relax standards on wetlands protection and clean water.

You have probably heard of McBroom's House Bill HB4303 which would free them from regulation if roadwork were confined to the ROW (Right-Of-Way) of an existing road -- that might allow them to designate the ORV/snowmobile trail to be an existing road CR595 -- and be home free.*

The EPA /FWS (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service) /C of E (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers) decision on the "Woodland Road" recognized the very transparent deception and denied permits. I see the current politicking as a move to take you out of the picture. Am sure that you recognize that too.

Now I wonder what we can do to convince your decision makers that you/we are up against a truly corrupt and fraudulent coalition of Rio Tinto, Kennecott, MDEQ (Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, now the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment, or MDNRE) and the courts (which have been sitting on the Appeals for six months). If any reputable engineering group were to simply read the original Feb. 2006 application for permits they too would reject it -- as did I and the DEQ's hired expert, David Sainsbury -- whose reports were suppressed. From a legal point of view Kennecott has consistently disregarded the Michigan Mining Law, Part 632 -- flagrantly. They continue mine construction despite the fact that they do not have a haul road; in fact they have not yet conducted the required EIA (Environmental Impact Assessment) which must be completed before submitting an application -- before any mining-related activities can be performed.

You will remember that I am a mining man and that I want to see the deposit mined legally and responsibly, and that I am on nobody's payroll.

Will you please bring this matter to the attention of the powers-that-be, at the three agencies, and NOT relax standards but instead reinforce them, preferably by taking back responsibilities from MDEQ. You probably read of MDEQ Joe Maki's admission, under oath, that he and his Mining Team did not even consider the new law, 632, when evaluating the application! It's in the court transcripts. The judge shrugged it off!**

Please help ASAP. They specialize in ignoring the law and establishing the fait accompli.

Thanks for being there!

Jack Parker, Mining Engineer
Baltic MI 49963

Jack Parker adds a note to concerned readers requesting they write their own letter to Ross Micham at micham.ross@epamail.epa.gov, with a copy to EPA Director Lisa Jackson at Jackson.lisa@epa.gov.

*
Click here for House Bill 4303 (2011) as introduced (reflecting no subsequent amendments or changes).

**Parker gives more details on the court case mentioned in the above letter in our Dec. 6, 2010, article, "Mining expert Jack Parker says Eagle Mine likely to collapse."

Thursday, February 24, 2011

NOSOTROS to host Latin music social Feb. 26

HOUGHTON -- NOSOTROS, the Hispanic Student Organization, is hosting a family-friendly Latin music social, from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 26, in Memorial Union Ballroom A on the Michigan Tech campus.

Click on this flyer for a larger version with more details on the NOSOTROS dance. (Flyer courtesy NOSOTROS)

The evening will begin with an hour of free dance lessons, followed by two hours of open floor with salsa, merengue, bachata and much more. No partner is needed.

For information, contact Alessia Uboni at auboni@mtu.edu.

From "Grist": Climate activist Tim DeChristopher goes to trial Feb. 28

By Umbra Fisk
Posted Feb. 22, 2011 on Grist

An individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for the law.
-- Martin Luther King, Jr.


Dearest readers,

I want to share a story of an ordinary citizen using peaceful direct action to take a stand.

When Tim DeChristopher woke up one morning in December of 2008, what he was intending to do that day was disrupt a Bureau of Land Management oil and gas lease auction. He did not expect he was starting down a road that would leave him $1.7 million in debt, facing a court date and up to 10 years in jail. But next Monday, Feb. 28, DeChristopher will go to trial for an unusual and profound act of creative, direct, nonviolent civil disobedience.

For DeChristopher, armchair activism wasn’t enough of a response to the climate crisis. So when he heard that parcels of land were going to be rushed off for lease in an auction at the end of the Bush administration, opening them up for drilling, DeChristopher wanted to do something to stop the sale... Read the rest of this article on Grist.

Photo: Tim DeChristopher speaks on "The Case for Extremism" during the Aug. 1, 2009, Protect the Earth workshops at Northern Michigan University in Marquette. (Keweenaw Now file photo © 2009 and courtesy Gabriel Caplett)

Editor's Note: See our report of Tim DeChristopher's presentation at Protect the Earth 2009 in Marquette. Read about the Countdown to Uprising supporting Tim on Peaceful Uprising.

Thimbleberry Band to play for Old-Time Community Dance Feb. 26

HANCOCK -- The Thimbleberry Band will play for another Old-Time Copper Country Community Dance from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. this Saturday, Feb 26, at the Finnish-American Heritage Center in Hancock. Polka, waltz, schottische, tango, and maybe a couple of contras. All ages welcome. Free admission. Lotsa fun!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Khana Khazana travels to Italy Feb. 25

HOUGHTON -- Authentic Italian dishes will be featured at Khana Khazana ("food treasure") this Friday, Feb. 25. Khana Khazana is a weekly series of ethnic lunches cooked by international students from different countries and served in the Michigan Tech Memorial Union Food Court from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Fridays.

Daniele Alami, an Italian exchange student in geology, will make pasta and potato, tonno in crosta di sesamo (sliced tuna with a sesame seed crust) and crostata di marmellata ai mirtilli (Italian blackberry pie).

A complete meal costs $6 and includes coffee, hot tea or a fountain soda. Items are available à la carte for $2.

Khana Khazana is a collaboration of international students and Michigan Tech Dining Services.

Finlandia International School of Art and Design Faculty Exhibit opens Feb. 24

HANCOCK -- Finlandia University’s International School of Art and Design will present an exhibit of work by university faculty from Feb. 24 through Mar. 22, 2011, at the Finlandia University Gallery, located in the Finnish American Heritage Center, Hancock.

An opening reception for the artists will take place at the gallery from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 24. The reception is free and open to the public. Refreshments will be served.

This year’s exhibit features new works by Finlandia University art and design faculty, faculty emeritus, and adjunct faculty.

Ceramics, sustainable design, painting and drawing, fiber art, and graphic design are among the media represented in the exhibit. The artists are Yueh-mei Cheng, Phyllis Fredendall, Arthur Hill, Rick Loduha, Denise Vandeville, Jon Brookhouse, Colleen Carroll, Cynthia Coté, Carrie Flaspohler, Greg Green, Melissa Hronkin, Laura Smyth, and Derik Spoon.

Phyllis Fredendall, associate professor of fiber arts and fashion design, will exhibit jacquard fabric that she designed using the computer software she teaches her students to use.

"Kuusamo Stripes." Knitted yardage by fiber artist Phyllis Fredendall.

"The fiber studio at Finlandia has three main directions: weaving and off-loom structures, dyeing and printing, and garment design. With so many areas within one concentration, it is important that I explore the processes we study along with the students," Fredendall says. "Some of these explorations are in the show."

Rick Loduha, associate professor of integrated design, will present his work from the Sustainable Keweenaw Resource Center’s Green Map project. The Keweenaw Green Map is an online map charting how local businesses, projects, happenings, and other activities play a part in sustainable community development.

A fabric piece titled "Levity" by Cynthia Coté, adjunct professor and director of the Copper Country Community Arts Center, Hancock, explores the question, If a soul was a tangible thing, what would it look like? The piece is part of a series she is creating in an effort to mend and celebrate the hardworking components of her body.

Adjunct professor Melissa Hronkin’s contribution to this year’s exhibit uses encaustics, an ancient medium using pigmented beeswax.

"Reconstructing the hive II," 2011, by Melissa Hronkin.

"I approach this medium experimentally," notes Hronkin about her use of encaustics. "And I use it as a medium to bind together my photography, drawing, sculptures, and ideas."

The Finlandia University Gallery is in the Finnish American Heritage Center, 435 Quincy Street, Hancock. Gallery hours are Monday to Friday 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Thursday, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturday, noon to 4 p.m., or by appointment.

Please call 906-487-7500 for more information.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Concerned citizens file contested case: Kennecott Eagle Mine

BIG BAY -- A citizen group located in northern Marquette County of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan announces the filing of a Petition for Contested Case Hearing with the State Office of Administrative Hearings in Lansing, Michigan. The Concerned Citizens of Big Bay, made up of citizens residing in and around the tiny community of Big Bay on the south shore of Lake Superior, contend regulatory failure of due process and enforcement by the Department of Natural Resources and Environment (DNRE/DEQ) in their oversight and enforcement of Part 632 Non-Ferrous Metallic Mining Statute, which regulates the first metallic sulfide mine in the state of Michigan.

The group contends that the DNRE/DEQ failed to require a Part 632 Amendment in the construction and extension of electric service from Marquette, Mich., to the Rio Tinto Eagle Mine site, located eight miles from Big Bay, as required by the Part 632 statute.

This October 2010 photo shows power lines being run along the AAA Road leading to the Eagle Mine without a request from Kennecott Eagle Minerals Co. (KEMC) for an amendment to their mining permit for this infrastructure. (File photo by Keweenaw Now)

"No one is above the law," Gene Champagne, leader of the group, stated. "The people of Big Bay, whose community will be the community most severely impacted by Rio Tinto’s proposed mine and any other projects that follow it, demand that Rio Tinto follow the laws that they helped craft in Part 632. We are tired of Rio Tinto’s 'blame the victim' strategy when decrying the delay of their project."

Champagne noted Rio Tinto further delays their own project every time they ignore the law or use lawyers to figure out a way around it.

"The law was written to protect Michigan citizens and their environment, not to cater to some self-imposed company deadline," he added.

The group's petition asserts the following: "The DNRE/DEQ repeatedly, in correspondence, assured citizens and groups that if the electric line was going to be extended from the main transmission line at CR 550 to the Eagle Mine site on the Yellow Dog Plains, Rio Tinto would be required to file an amendment. This did not happen."

The Concerned Citizens of Big Bay also petition that any court action be conducted in Marquette County.

"We are representing ourselves in this petition and have not the resource to hire a lawyer that may travel at our will. We would be further injured by this action if all of the citizens of this action and their witnesses were required to come to Lansing to bring this grievance forward," the group states.

The petition asks that the DNRE/DEQ demand the mining company file a Part 632 Amendment for the construction of electric service from the city of Marquette to the Rio Tinto Eagle Mine site on the Yellow Dog Plains -- fulfilling all parts of Part 632 including a two-year Environmental Impact Assessment as required by the statute. Levying of violations and fines; stoppage of all electric power grid work, and the demand for public hearing in Big Bay are all part of the petitioner’s request.

Rio Tinto, the third largest mining company in the world, began construction of the Eagle Mine in the summer of 2010. The mining company’s current mining permit calls for the use of a diesel generating plant at the mine site, as this remote region of the Yellow Dog Plains has never had any kind of utility infrastructure.

The State of Michigan instituted a process within the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), under Governor Jennifer Granholm, allowing "aggrieved" persons to file a petition for an Administrative hearing for action or non-actions of the DNRE/DEQ in their regulatory processes. Contested cases are presided over by an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) from the State Office of Administrative Hearings and Rules.

"We were not represented by due process in the full replacement of new transmission lines from Marquette to Big Bay, nor in the process of buried industrial service to the Rio Tinto Eagle Mine site. There were no environmental assessments, no reclamation plans, no contingency plans, no review of financial assurances and absolutely no provision or opportunity for public comment by the DNRE/DEQ. We are aggrieved," the group states in their recent press release.

The Concerned Citizens of Big Bay seek to highlight that the lack of regulatory oversight of Part 632, in this metallic sulfide mine or any other like mine, is unacceptable.

"The Part 632 regulatory process is intended to protect not only the environment, but to ensure there is no harm to the safety of citizens or harm to the community and its ability to plan adequately around this new permitted activity," the petition states.

Editor's Note: See mining expert Jack Parker's Jan. 7, 2011, "Letter: Correction for the KEMC power line extension permit," commenting on the Dec. 7, 2010, DNRE public hearing on the power line extended from Marquette County Road 550 to the vicinity of the Eagle Mine site.

Great Lakes Echo: Kennecott loses road decision; worries intensify over U.P. mine

By Kari Lydersen
Posted Feb. 21, 2011

The winding, narrow road between Big Bay and Marquette in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is usually plied by tourists, Northern Michigan University college students and locals -- likely on their way to snowmobile, cross-country ski, fish or kayak in the cobalt blue waters of Lake Superior or the surrounding woods and wetlands.

But now residents, elected officials and business owners are worried and angry that these pleasant scenic roads -- sometimes icy and treacherous in winter -- could be widened and reinforced to support an endless stream of trucks carrying equipment and ore to and from the mine that Kennecott Minerals is in the process of opening on the Yellow Dog Plains near Big Bay.... Read the rest of this article on Great Lakes Echo.

Chinese New Year Celebration offers performance in Rozsa

Zaiqian Zhang, left, and Yuxiao Wang were Mistress and Master of Ceremonies for the 2011 Chinese Night performance on Feb 6 in the Rozsa Center. Click on photos for larger versions. (Photos by Keweenaw Now)

HOUGHTON -- The Chinese Students and Scholars Association (CSSA) at Michigan Tech hosted a Chinese New Year Celebration on Sunday, Feb. 6, 2011 -- the Year of the Rabbit. The public was invited, and the program was free.

Here are some photos of the entertaining student performance in the Rozsa Center:

Tianyu Li performs a Chinese folk dance.

Wanjing Zhou amazes the audience with her magic show.

video
Xi Lin and Mengjiao Xiao perform a lovely classical dance. (Video clip by Keweenaw Now)

Members of the women's dance group perform an energetic number.

Rui Mao sings a song about New York. His band members are Kenny Stahl, Eben Mannes and Nicole Kirch.

Li Chen performs a graceful Tai ji demonstration.

Curtain call ...

After the show, Zhengming Li, his wife, Suning, and their daughter, Alice, pause for a photo. Thanks for inviting us to Chinese Night, Ming and Suning!

Preschool Program to hold Open House Feb. 23, 26

An Orientation / Open House for the Bilingual English /Chinese Preschool Program for children ages 2 1/2 to 5 will be held from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 23, and from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 26, at the BHK Houghton Center, 700 Park Ave., Houghton.

The program is open to private payment or DHS childcare subsidy. Scholarships may be available. Chinese-speaking teachers are needed. Michigan Tech University student volunteers are welcome. Email pykuo@bhkfirst.org for information.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Aquila Theatre to present "A Midsummer Night's Dream" Feb. 25

The Aquila Theatre will present Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 25, in the Rozsa Center. (Image courtesy Rozsa Center for the Performing Arts)

HOUGHTON -- Many of us know at least a little of the tale: Enchanted forests, fairy kings and queens, mixed-up lovers and the mischievous Puck! Come to the Rozsa Center for an evening with Aquila Theatre's production of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 25, 2011.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream has delighted audiences for centuries, and Aquila’s interpretation will renew the magic of Shakespeare’s plot. Set against a classical Athenian backdrop, A Midsummer Night’s Dream deals with the universal theme of love, and its complications: passion, lust, frustration, depression, confusion, and, of course, marriage.

Aquila weaves a web of theatrical magic that will take an audience to the heart of an enchanted forest, the injustice of the Athenian court, and the political strife of the fairy kingdom. The plot focuses on the trials and experiences of two sets of lovers, the Fairy King and Queen and their servants, and a group of rude mechanics attempting to stage a production of "Pyramus and Thisbe" for the wedding of the Duke of Athens. At the heart of the story is the Fairy King’s servant, the impish Puck, whose magic creates an endless supply of mirth, mistaken identity, and inappropriate -- if not absolutely ludicrous -- passions.

Aquila’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream has been praised by The New York Times as follows: "Timely and pleasing…this 'Dream' soothes the eye and tickles the funny bone.'"

Aquila’s comedic mastery, physical ensemble techniques, and proven successes with their critically acclaimed productions of Shakespeare promise that this will be a Dream you won’t soon forget.

This event is sponsored in part by Minnesota Public Radio and the James and Margaret Black Endowment.

Ticket prices for adults are $20, $18 for seniors, $14 for students, and free for Michigan Tech Students. To purchase tickets, contact Michigan Tech Ticketing Services at the Rozsa Box Office at 487-3200, the Central Ticket Office (SDC) at 487-2073, or go online at tickets.mtu.edu. No refunds, exchanges, or late seating, please.

Michigan Tech to celebrate African Culture Feb. 21-26

During the African Night 2010 performance, members of the audience respond to Hayor Bibimma's invitation to join them in a dance on stage at the Rozsa Center. This year's African Night will again include a visiting dance group -- the Adinkra Music and Dance Ensemble, who trace their roots to Ghana. (File photo by Keweenaw Now)*

HOUGHTON -- Black Heritage Month continues at Michigan Tech University with African Culture Week, Feb. 21-26, exploring several countries / regions of Africa. The week concludes on Saturday, Feb. 26, with African Night: Road Trip Across Africa, featuring an African dinner, followed by a performance by students and special guests -- the Adinkra Music and Dance Ensemble, who trace their roots to Ghana.

Monday, Feb. 21: Southern Africa: Amandla! A Revolution in Four Part Harmony. Part 1 of this film will be shown at 6 p.m. in ChemSci 101.

Tuesday, Feb. 22: Kenya: "Focus on Kenya," a look at Kenyans who are making a difference at home and around the globe, at 6 p.m. in ChemSci 101.

Wednesday, Feb. 23: Southern Africa: Amandla! A Revolution in Four Part Harmony. Part 2 of this film will be shown at 6 p.m. in ChemSci 101.

Thursday, Feb. 24: Liberia: "14 Years of Civil War," a presentation by a Liberian student on the history of the Liberian civil war and the short and long term impacts, at 6 p.m. in ChemSci 101.

The above events in ChemSci 101 are free.

Saturday, Feb. 26: African Night: Road Trip Across Africa will include dinner and a performance. Dinner will begin at 5 p.m. in the Memorial Union Board (MUB) Commons, and the performance will be at 7:30 p.m. at the Rozsa Center for Performing Arts.

During this event, students from various African countries provide the audience with an exhilarating display of some of the dance routines from their countries. Food prepared using recipes from certain African countries is served before the main event. The road-trip themed performance by the students will bring to stage the cultural heritage of the various African countries represented on Michigan Tech’s campus in a night of enlightening entertainment. This year’s special guest performers are the Adinkra Music and Dance Ensemble, who trace their roots to Ghana.

The cost for the general public, including both dinner and performance, is $15; for Michigan Tech students it is $10, and children under 5 are free.

Tickets are available through Michigan Tech Ticketing Operations at 906-487-3200, the Rozsa Box Office, the S.D.C. or online at tickets.mtu.edu.

*Editor's Note: See our slide show of African Night 2010 for more photos.

Superior Wind Symphony to perform Feb. 23

HOUGHTON -- The Superior Wind Symphony will perform for the Midwinter Band Festival Concert at 7:30 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 23, in the Rozsa Center. Conductor Nicholas Enz (VPA) will treat the audience to an evening filled with folksongs, featuring guest conductor Evan Feldman of the University of North Carolina.

Wednesday night's concert draws from the folk music of many different countries -- from H. Owen Reed's masterwork, "La Fiesta Mexicana," to the music of Percy Grainger, with two of his most popular works, "Irish Tune from County Derry" and "Shepherd's Hey," the toe-tapping Morris dance.

In addition to the concert, Feldman will work with Copper Country high school bands and their directors, including Lake Linden-Hubble, Jeffers, Houghton, Dollar Bay and Hancock.

Ticket prices are $10 for the general public, $5 for students, and free for Michigan Tech students. To purchase tickets, contact the Rozsa Box Office at 487-3200, the Central Ticket Office (SDC) at 487-2073, or go online at www.tickets.mtu.edu.

No refunds, exchanges or late seating, please.

"Discover Isle Royale" series continues at Portage Library with Feb. 23 presentation

HOUGHTON -- The Portage Lake District Library continues to host "Discover Isle Royale," a series of monthly programs sponsored by the Isle Royale Institute and Isle Royale National Park.

From 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 23, Seth DePasqual will present "Drilling for Hope: Exploration, Technology and the End of Copper Mining on Isle Royale." DePasqual will take participants on a visual journey into Isle Royale’s past to investigate the final attempts to extract mineral riches from this remote island. He will also describe how, starting at least 4000 years ago, people made the difficult passage to Isle Royale in search of copper.

DePasqual is the Cultural Resources Manager for Isle Royale National Park. Formally trained as an archaeologist, he has studied the past in locations across America and Norway. Citing the island’s rich inventory of prehistoric and historic endeavors, he considers Isle Royale to be a dream medium for archaeological research.

Library programs are free and everyone is welcome. For more information, please call the library at 482-4570 or visit www.pldl.org.

Portage Library Closed for Presidents' Day

The Portage Lake District Library will be closed Monday, Feb. 21, in observance of Presidents' Day. However, the Gluten-Free Recipe Exchange program will meet as scheduled from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Monday. The Gluten-Free Recipe Exchange is open to all and everyone is invited. For more information, please call the library at 482-4570.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Letter: Budget woes and haul roads: What's wrong with this picture?

By Jack Parker

We are learning that both Federal and State budgets must be cut drastically, and that our DNR has already been targeted. That comes from spending money we don’t have. Now we must pay.

Considering that both DNR and DEQ have long been underfunded to the extent that they cannot enforce existing regulations, we must resist the cuts and even insist on redistribution of funds so that the law can and will be upheld.

A peculiar situation has been created concerning the Kennecott haul road from the Eagle deposit to the Humboldt mill. Months of manipulation have led to a growing perception that Kennecott could fund the road-permitting process, which would include design and environmental impact studies -- to be performed by the County -- with construction to be funded by sources unknown, but probably State or Federal.

Not discussed yet is the fact that for eight years, probably many more than eight, that road will be pounded by Kennecott trucks hauling away our mineral resources at the rate of

HALF A BILLION DOLLARS-WORTH PER YEAR !

$500,000,000.00 per year.

500,000 tonnes at more than $1,000/tonne.

(It varies, but the current value is more than $1,100/tonne.)

Can anybody see a better way to boost our budget?

Who should pay for the haul road?

How much of the half billion/year should come back to the State?

Jack Parker, Mining Engineer
Baltic, MI 49963