Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Updated: Headwaters: Citizens Pack Hearing to Oppose Rio Tinto Road

At the Feb. 21, 2012, DEQ Hearing in Ishpeming, James Haun of Skanee speaks of his opposition to the proposed CR 595. Haun, a Vietnam veteran, said he learned about the U.P. from a fellow soldier in a bunker in Vietnam and came to this beautiful area right after the war, determined to spend the rest of his life here. (Photo © and courtesy Jeremiah Eagle Eye. Used here with permission.)

By Gabriel Caplett
Posted Feb. 22, 2012

ISHPEMING -- Hundreds of citizens packed a conference center in Ishpeming on Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2012, to give their opinions on a proposed "County Road 595" mine hauling project, in western Marquette County. Of 61 speakers, a majority -- 34 -- (including this author) criticized the road project, with most support for the project coming from area politicians and industry representatives.

Wildcat Canyon in the potential CR 595 corridor. Looking straight down the canyon, one can see Eagle Rock in the middle of the photo, close to the top, below the bluish ridges on the horizon. The sand from the Eagle Mine site is visible just to the right and left. Click on photo for larger version. (Photo © and courtesy Jeremiah Eagle Eye. Used here with permission.)

Bill Malmsten, an Ishpeming resident and president of the Upper Peninsula Environmental Coalition, summed up a sentiment commonly heard throughout the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality hearing.

This Marquette County Road Commission map shows a detail of the area where the proposed CR 595 compares to the Woodland Road, previously proposed by Rio Tinto-Kennecott as a private mine haul road. The yellow line is the Woodland Road with the red line showing CR 595 route slightly east of it. The dark line (most of the route) indicates where the routes coincide. Click on map for larger version. (Keweenaw Now file photo)

"I’m pretty sure that there isn’t a person in this room who doesn’t understand that the real purpose of the County Road 595 proposal is not what’s stated in the wetland application, that it’s no coincidence that 595 would start at Kennecott’s mill and end at Kennecott’s mine, that’s it’s no coincidence that the 595 route follows almost the exact same route as the previously proposed mine haul road," said Malmsten.

Click here to read the rest of this article on Headwaters News.


dan blondeau said...

Rio Tinto has committed to fund CR595 if construction can begin by spring 2013. If construction does not start by spring 2013, Eagle will reconsider its commitment to fund the construction. Rio Tinto is also completing additional engineering for safety improvements on existing roads utilized during construction of CR595. In the event the permit application for CR595 is not approved, Eagle will utilize existing roads for ore haulage during the life of the mine.

gcaplett said...

Dan, why not come up with something other than the exact PR quote you've been using for many weeks now? If you had something interesting to say, it would make an article on the subject a little easier without putting readers to sleep.

Yes, Rio Tinto is looking at using its approved route, since its already an approved county trucking route. The county is trying to get funding for part of that upgrade, including a couple of bridge upgrades paid for you - maybe a Christmas present (sorry if I blew the surprise). Also at taxpayer expense, you are getting $1.9 million to upgrade the county road to go into the Humboldt Mill. If the Woodland Road/595 mine hauling road goes through, Kennecott will likely get taxpayer money to upgrade the Triple A road from the Eagle Mine to the Woodland Road/595 outlet to your industrial standards. Who knows what other goodies you might get (I suppose you might know that).

After all, Kennecott's local president, Adam Burley, wrote to the county last August that Kennecott wants the county to look into funding the mine haul road using state and federal taxpayer money.

So you are correct that Kennecott has a number of options, in addition to designing the Woodland Road/595 plan, getting the county to apply for it, and lobbying for it in Lansing and D.C.

You are a PR guy for a powerful company. You may very well get the mine haul road, especially now that you've beefed up your PR personnel in the area, but it will have been obtained dishonestly.