Friday, May 18, 2012

Open Letter to Marquette City, County Officials

Why is [Marquette] County pretending that building CR 595 would benefit the community and the region? Review the 595 application. It does not take a keen scientific mind to see that this project would be extremely destructive and is completely unnecessary for our economic or any other kind of well-being. Recent comments from both the Army Corps and Fish and Wildlife confirm this.

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. (File photo © and courtesy Jeremiah Eagle Eye. Reprinted with permission.)

How did we get to this place? Will someone tell me, please, if the city of Marquette was consulted before Kennecott changed its ore hauling route from the original permitted plan ending at a railhead north of Marquette, to a route that flows through our city?

The public seemed unaware of this footnote until just last year, when Kennecott pulled it out of the closet in an attempt to scare us into supporting their haul road proposal.

This map, displayed at the Sept. 19, 2011, Marquette County Road Commission meeting, shows two possible haul routes for the Rio Tinto / Kennecott Eagle Mine. The red north-south route is an approximate projection of the proposed County Road 595, which would have ecological impacts, especially on wetlands. The longer route, in black, would use present roads: the Triple A Road (heading east from the mine site), CR 510, CR 550, and US 41 (heading west) to the Humboldt processing mill. Click on map for larger version. (File photo of map by Keweenaw Now)

Part 632 mining law says a local unit of government may enact, maintain, and enforce ordinances, regulations, or resolutions regulating the routes used by vehicles in connection with mining operations. Have our local officials attempted to exercise these rights?

Why hasn’t the City pursued the possibility of constructing a bypass north of Marquette?  The Township’s 2008 Road Facilities Plan includes just such a road, extending from the intersection of US 41 Brickyard north to Forestville and eventually continuing north to County Road HK and terminating at County Road 550. It was proposed as a route to segregate heavy commercial traffic, primarily forest product and aggregate haulers, from everyday non-commercial traffic. Why was that option taken off the table?

We should not allow Rio Tinto to dictate to us which routes it will use to ship out its ore.  They would have us believe that we must choose between running mine trucks through the city, and tearing up our wilderness. If they’re concerned about keeping their rather tenuous social license to operate, they might be careful to avoid further bullying. We should not be fooled by gifts given to local charities; they are nothing more than flowers after a black eye.

This company has yanked around our citizens and officials and conducted activities without permits, confident that penalties would be minimal to nonexistent. It is a bit late to regret that we invited them into our community, but we should show them the door as quickly as possible. In the meantime, make them obey the rules.

Catherine Parker
Marquette, MI

1 comment:

dan blondeau said...

In 2007, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality issued all permits required to build and operate the Eagle Mine. All of us at Eagle are dedicated to complying with our permits and all other environmental regulations that affect our operation.

As of April 2012, our local hire percentage is at 75%. I am a born and raised Yooper and I am proud to be working for Rio Tinto along with many other local people.

- Daniel Blondeau