Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Michigan LCV: What the U.P. Mining Boom Means for Michigan

Rio Tinto / Kennecott Eagle Mine near Big Bay, Mich. At right is Eagle Rock, a sacred Ojibwe site, under which the mining company is blasting an entry to the mine. (Photo © Jeremiah Eagle Eye and courtesy standfortheland.com. Reprinted with permission.)

By Michigan League of Conservation Voters
Posted April 16, 2012 on Michigan LCV "Political Week in Review"

The Great Lakes Echo had an article today on the resurgence of mining in the Upper Peninsula, detailing both the economic factors driving it and the environmental concerns over it. The Kennecott Eagle Rock mine is especially troublesome, creating numerous environmental concerns over its development. First, it will create a heavily-trafficked new road through "previously untouched forest and wetland areas," rather than using existing road. Second, it will be dug out right beneath the headwaters of the Salmon Trout River, the spawning grounds for the rare coaster brook trout. Finally, and perhaps most astonishing in its disregard to local tradition, the tunnel opening was literally blown out of a sacred Ojibwe spiritual site.*

As has happened before with sulfide mines across the country, the greatest fear is that sulfide waste may leak into the watershed or that the mine's roof could collapse underneath the river's headwaters.

Four groups are suing to stop the mine: the National Wildlife Federation, the Huron Mountain Club, the Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve, and the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community. Their case was dismissed in November, but they appealed to the Court of Appeals in December. How courts interpret and apply Michigan environmental laws are central to how cases like these are decided. For that reason, we'll launch our new Green Gavels accountability tool in the next few weeks so that ordinary citizens can understand the impact that the Michigan Supreme Court -- whose decisions bind all other Michigan courts -- has on the ability of citizens to prevent environmental harm to our state.**

Holding our elected officials accountable on how well they protect our environment is what Michigan LCV does. For those who aren't as aware of the important work we do, though, please check out our cool new video. If you enjoy it as much as we do, please forward it to five friends. Share it on Facebook, Twitter, and Google. The more people that pitch in to let policy makers know they are being held accountable, the better we can all protect the places in Michigan that we all love. (Incidentally, the first fifteen seconds are on that very subject).***

* Read this article, "More U.P. mining in Michigan’s U.P. worries enviros," on the Great Lakes Echo.

** Read about Michigan LCV's Green Gavels.

*** Click here to see the Michigan LCV's new video on YouTube.

Click here to read more articles on the Michigan LCV's latest "Political Week in Review."

Editor's Note: Thanks to Michigan LCV's Ryan Werder for sharing these articles with Keweenaw Now.

1 comment:

aunteedahlia said...

I appreciate the coverage, but am disturbed to hear environmental groups using the same rhetoric as those who are promoting this so-called "boom."

There is no mention in either of the articles (the other one being from Great Lakes Echo) of what a "boom" really looks like in terms of a devastated landscape. And what of the "bust" that must follow the "boom"?

Please, everyone, refrain from suggesting these things are inevitable or already here. And when you have a few free hours, take a look at the Eagle and Cliff's mine sites and multiply that in your mind by 40 or 50. Then
drive over to Iron River and have a look at a former mining district, with its pits and cave-ins and heaps of waste rock and acid mine drainage.

A "boom" is a sudden, rapid expansion, a rush. We should not be in a hurry to approve new mining projects. Lansing has certainly granted a whole lot of new mineral leases and seems eager to sell off our minerals, but hold on, these are OUR minerals and this is OUR landscape, right?? Looks like it's up to us to protect them.