Thursday, November 15, 2012

OPINION: Correcting the Benishek push for construction of CR 595

By Jack Parker*

Recent articles in the Marquette Mining Journal and the Daily Mining Gazette, based on a press release from U.S. Representative Dan Benishek, are political in nature and contain errors from Mr. Benishek. I wish to set the record straight. All of the following statements can be verified -- but I doubt that anybody will want to do that.

Joblesssness. Michigan figures quote 9.3 percent for the state as a whole, 7.2 percent in the U.P, and 7.8 percent nationwide. Methinks that makes the U.P look good.

Benishek drew support from six other U.S Reps -- all from downstate.**

I submit that not one of the above knows the territory or the issues which cause the Federal Agencies to linger over their decision.

Remember -- the following statements are verifiable.

The original application for permits to mine was and still is a fraudulent and incompetent document which should have been rejected by MDEQ (Michigan Department of Environmental Quality) in 2006. They accepted it.

The applicable regulations, in Part 632, (available on line) stipulate stiff financial penalties and imprisonment for those who make false statements in the permitting process. That would include Kennecott management and attorneys; Foth, the producer of the document; MDEQ, who failed to regulate as prescribed by law; and perhaps those in court who ignored the evidence and supported Kennecott.

Kennecott proceeded with construction before the permitting process was completed, again with MDEQ collusion. They still do not have a permitted haul road. They still do not have a completed environmental impact study.

We are waiting for judgment of more recent appeals for justice, with reason to believe that the Feds will uphold the law.***

Much of the noise we hear supporting construction of 595 comes from businesses other than the (Eagle) mine which would exploit the resources of the region for profit. We might reasonably expect them to support the costs of building and forever maintaining the road.

No attention has been given to those who wish to preserve the limited wilderness. MDEQ ignores their responsibility to conserve those resources.

Kennecott openly plans to mine only the extremely high-grade ore, for six or seven years, abandoning ore-grade material which could extend the life of the mine, and jobs, by another 15  years. They used the same irresponsible approach at Flambeau, Wisconsin, and can be expected to repeat as they uncover additional ore bodies.

The Feds do well to hesitate to endorse a $5,000,000,000 fraud. Spectators should get the facts before they comment.

Editor's Notes:

* Visiting author Jack Parker is a semi-retired mining engineer and geologist, well respected for his practical experience in more than 500 mines around the world. Parker testified at a contested case hearing challenging the MDEQ mining permit for Rio Tinto-Kennecott's Eagle Mine on the Yellow Dog Plains. Click here to read about his reports concerning the potential instability of the mine.

** Rep. Benishek and six other U.S. Representatives from Michigan -- all Republicans from the Lower Peninsula -- recently sent a letter to Lisa Jackson, EPA administrator, to remove EPA objections to CR 595, a haul road for the Eagle Mine, projected to be built from the mine on CR AAA to Humboldt, Mich., site of a mill for processing copper and nickel from the ore. EPA objections are primarily based on impacts to wetlands and streams. Click here for the letter from the seven legislators.

*** EPA Region 5 in Chicago is expected to make a decision on the road by Dec. 1, 2012, after considering public comment from the Aug. 28, 2012, EPA hearing on CR 595 and written comments sent to them. Click here for Part 1 of our article on the Aug. 28 hearing. Click here for Part 2.

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