Saturday, February 18, 2012

Letter: School district donated illegally to Huuki campaign

Those in our public schools who are entrusted with the proper use of the tax dollars they receive, and that are meant to be used to educate students, have a certain responsibility to be aware of the laws of the State of Michigan regarding donations to Michigan elected officials. Likewise, Michigan elected officials have the responsibility to be aware of what constitutes a legal donation to their election campaigns and to keep track of all donations to those campaigns. It seems that last year both a local school district and a local politician failed in their duties in this regard.

Donations to the campaigns of Michigan elected officials are available for view online at http://miboecfr.nictusa.com/cgi-bin/cfr/can_search.cgi. Michigan citizens can learn a lot from searching these records! Recently, in searching the records of Rep. Matt Huuki I discovered that on May 25, 2011, the Matt Huuki for State Representative campaign fund received a donation of $100 from the Adams Township School District. In investigating the legality of this, I determined that it appears that school districts are not permitted to donate to the campaign funds of elected Michigan officials, as it is a violation of Section 57 of the Campaign Finance Act.

It might be noted that a week before the donation, at a meeting of the district's Board of Education, it was voted unanimously to have Mr. Huuki as the district's 2011 commencement speaker. I have no documentation that the donation to the Huuki campaign was related to his speaking at the commencement; the close timing of events could be coincidental.

It should also be noted that regardless of the provisions of section 57, honoraria are not allowed to be given to Michigan elected officials (Mich. Comp. Laws §169.250), so even if Mr. Huuki had received the funds as an honorarium, that would not have been legal even if it had not been donated to his campaign.

I am not aware of any communication between the district and Mr. Huuki regarding the donation, but his campaign organization has an obligation to keep track of donations to his campaign.

I'm a former public school employee and pay taxes in Adams Township, and as such resent both tax dollars going to politicians that should be going to educating students and having my tax dollars going to political campaigns without my permission.

I have made a formal complaint about this activity with the Michigan Secretary of State's Bureau of Elections. I have indicated in the complaint that I do not wish that the district receive a fine for this activity, and that a reprimand would suffice. It would be hypocritical of me to complain about school tax dollars going to a political candidate and then request that the district pay a fine out of its education budget. If the Department of State finds that there may be reason to believe my allegations are true, it must attempt to correct the violation or prevent further violations by informal methods such as a conference, conciliation, or persuasion, and may enter into a conciliation agreement with the alleged violator.

Hopefully through these actions some lessons will be learned.

Doug Welker
Atlantic Mine

Arts Center to offer introductory painting class by Harriet King Feb. 25

HANCOCK -- Do you remember drawing and painting as a child? Have you ever wondered if you could still paint? Pick up where you left off because Anyone Can Paint! This introductory painting class taught by Harriet King will take place from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 25, at the Community Arts Center in Hancock.

"Playing My Cards Carefully," by Harriet King. (Image courtesy Community Arts Center)

Harriet holds two degrees in studio art. She has been an exhibiting artist for over 20 years and enjoys sharing her creativity by teaching others.

All materials will be provided. The fee for the class is $35; it goes up to $45 after Feb 18. Call NOW to register in advance: 482-2333 or email: ccarts@coppercountryarts.com.

The Copper Country Community Arts Center is located at 126 Quincy Street in Hancock. The CCCAC’s mission is Fostering and Environment Where the Arts and People Grow Together.

Rozsa Center to present "Celtic Nights" from Ireland Feb. 21, 22

HOUGHTON -- Michigan Tech's Rozsa Center presents "Direct From Ireland -- Celtic Nights -- Journey of Hope," at 7:30 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 21, and Wednesday, Feb. 22.

"Celtic Nights" will offer expert dancing as well as vocal talents from Ireland Feb. 21 and 22 at the Rozsa Center. (Photo courtesy Rozsa Center for the Performing Arts)

The show, from the creators of Gaelforce Dance, has been described as an "unmissable two-hour spectacular (that) has brought audiences to their feet all around the world."

"Celtic Nights" weaves together the lilting melodies and plaintive lyrics of the Celtic heritage -- through traditional ballads and vivid choreography. This show features the finest male and the finest female voices of the Celtic world, showcased against a backdrop of expert dancing and musicianship.

Six of Ireland's most prominent vocal talents are complemented by six of its most accomplished step dancers, creating an exhilarating picture of the power and majesty of music and the hypnotic fury of dancing feet -- all of it telling a story of a vibrant people.

Tickets are $28 for adults, $24 for seniors and $20 for students.

To purchase tickets, call 487-2073, go online at tickets.mtu.edu, or visit SDC Ticketing Operations. SDC box office hours are 8 a.m. to 9 p.m., Monday - Friday; 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturday; and noon to 8 p.m., Sunday. The Rozsa box office is closed during regular business hours and will only open two hours prior to showtime.

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

For more information, contact Bethany Jones at 487-1836 or at bjones@mtu.edu.

Portage Library to host Dog Sledding Program Feb. 21

HOUGHTON -- The Portage Lake District Library will host children’s author and sled dog musher Jackie Winkowski, and mushers Jim Winkowski and Lisa Dietzen for a multimedia presentation on "The Magic of Dog Sledding" from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 21.

Jackie Winkowski will read and show slides from her books Miki’s Challenge, Miki’s Race and Promise of the White Dog. The photo illustrated books tell heartwarming stories inspired by real sled dogs and true events. Winkowski will be accompanied by her lead dog Miki, the main character in two of her books.

Longtime musher Jim Winkowski will be part of the presentation with his lead dog Molly. He will compete in the 6-dog, 35-mile CopperDog 35 race on March 2 in the Keweenaw. The Winkowski’s own Snowy Plains Kennel in Gwinn, Michigan, and offer dog sled rides and events that promote a love for mushing.

Lisa Dietzen, a student at Northern Michigan University, will present videos and photographs about dog sledding and share sources of inspiration that have helped her achieve goals and realize her dreams. Dietzen, who has wanted to be a musher since childhood, has been competing in events throughout the U.P. and hopes to race in the Iditarod someday.

There will be a book signing and selling after the presentation and books can be autographed with Miki’s paw print. Winkowski’s books are available through Amazon.com and in local businesses, and they can be checked out at the library.

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

Gluten-free recipe exchange to meet Feb. 20 at Portage Library

HOUGHTON -- Regular meetings of the Gluten-Free Recipe Exchange are held from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on the 3rd Monday of each month, September through May, at the Portage Lake District Library. The next meeting will be on Monday, Feb. 20. Everyone is invited to participate.

Each month features a different type of food, and February’s meeting will focus on gluten-free salads. Participants are welcome to bring their favorite gluten-free salad and/or salad dressing for sampling and are encouraged to share their recipes. Copies of the recipes will be made at the library. Please list all ingredients used in making foods that are shared at these meetings and identify the brand names of the gluten-free ingredients. Bringing food is not a requirement for attendance.

Participants are also encouraged to bring their former favorite recipes that they want help converting to gluten-free. Help will be available.

The Gluten-Free Recipe Exchange is organized by and for those who are interested in or required to follow a gluten-free diet. Gluten-free eating requires the avoidance of all wheat, rye, barley, and oats. Most people find it challenging at first, but are excited to find recipes and foods that are fun and easy to make and tasty to eat. The Gluten-Free Recipe Exchange is an opportunity to share those great recipes and learn from others. Everyone who is interested in learning more about gluten-free eating is encouraged to attend.

This program is free and open to all. For more information, please call a member of the group at 281-5216. You may also call the library at 482-4570 or visit www.pldl.org.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Mining 4: Scientific Perspectives

By Susan Bence
Posted Feb. 17, 2012 on WUWM, Milwaukee

MILWAUKEE, Wis. -- From Ashland, Wis., WUWM Milwaukee Public Radio Environmental Reporter Susan Bence interviewed scientists of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Northland College professors and a Northland student in Natural Resources concerning the potential environmental impacts of the proposed open-pit Gogebic Taconite mine in the Penokee Hills.

The interview was broadcast and posted today, Feb. 17, 2012, as Wisconsin legislators attempt to push the proposed Assembly mining bill through the Wisconsin Senate to speed up the permitting process for the Gogebic Taconite project.

Click here to listen to the interview or to read the text.

This article is part of a series. Click here for additional articles on the issue.

Editor's Note: Thanks to Woods Person for this update.

Michigan LCV: Renewable energy could mean 21,000 Michigan jobs

By Ryan Werder, Michigan League of Conservation Voters
Posted Feb. 13, 2012
Reprinted with permission

On Feb. 8, 2012, the Energy Innovation Business Council (EIBC) released a fascinating report on renewable energy jobs in Michigan. We'll summarize it in a sentence: Renewable energy manufacturing in Michigan could become a $4.9 billion industry supporting 21,000 jobs by 2015.*

At this point we're talking about big numbers, so please take a moment to pause and reflect on the thousands of families whose lives would improve if they were just one of those 21,000 new jobs. Exciting, right? It is sometimes too easy to get lost in the statistics of asthma rates from coal, jobs from new clean energy projects, billions of dollars in the budget, etc. If we don't remember the faces behind the statistics from time to time, we risk forgetting why we spend so much time researching them in the first place.

Anyway, back to the question of what to do with these crucial numbers in this report. As we've discussed previously, Michigan citizens have the unique opportunity to decide if they want to reach for a future that includes these new clean energy jobs. We firmly believe that an increased Renewable Energy Standard (RES) that is proposed for this November’s ballot would guarantee that future by ensuring that Michigan achieves 25 percent of our energy from renewable sources by 2025.**

Renewable energy manufacturing, installation, and maintenance jobs will go where the demand is. Just because MSU beat Ohio State at basketball this weekend doesn't mean we're beating the state of Ohio in the fight for more jobs; they have a renewable energy standard of their own that is out-rebounding us for jobs. We can begin to box them out with this ballot initiative.

For more on the success stories already in Michigan based on clean energy, check out my live-tweeting from the EIBC's launch in the State Capitol.***

So you don't miss it in the future, you can follow us in the future by clicking here.

* Click here for the LCV's Feb. 12 post, "New Advanced Energy Business Coalition Strengthens Renewables' Political Voice."

** See Michigan Energy Michigan Jobs on this ballot initiative.

*** Click here for more Twitter updates.

Visit the Michigan League of Conservation Voters Web site for more articles and political news related to environmental topics.

Michigan LCV Action alert: Protect Natural Resources Trust Fund

In 1976, the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund was created to acquire and develop outdoor recreation property with the proceeds of royalties from oil and gas wells drilled on public land.

In 1984, the citizens of Michigan voted the Trust Fund into the Constitution to protect it from politically-motivated legislators.

Now, in 2012, some legislators want it back.

The Natural Resources Trust Fund Board recently approved 41 projects in 25 counties that will provide outdoor recreation opportunities and create jobs in dozens of local townships.

Two-thirds of the funding will go directly to local projects, and the rest will protect new state recreation land.

State legislators, however, are threatening to deny some of these projects. In 2010, the Trust Fund received a record infusion of money from gas and oil leases, and some legislators have other ideas for the money than outdoor recreation.

Please tell Representatives Jon Bumstead (R - Newago) and Stephen Lindberg (D - Marquette) -- House Appropriations Natural Resources Sub-Committee Chair and Vice Chair -- to reject any attempt to interfere with the Trust Fund and to immediately pass HB 5364 to fund these projects.

Click here to take action.

James K. Boyce challenges environmental protection / economics "tradeoff"

By Barry Pegg*

Appropriation -- also known as "defending the commons" or environmental justice -- is one way to build natural assets, according to Dr. James K. Boyce, who presented "Environment vs. Economics" at Michigan Tech on Jan. 11, 2012. (Photos and videos by Allan Baker for Keweenaw Now)

HOUGHTON -- James K. Boyce, Professor of Economics and Director of the Program on Development, Peace-building, and the Environment in the Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, spoke to an audience estimated at 160 on "Environment vs. Economics" in Hesterberg Hall of Michigan Tech's Forestry building on Wednesday evening, Jan. 11, 2012. (Dr. Boyce was visiting family in Houghton).

Dr. James K. Boyce, left, gave this lecture during a visit with his parents, Jim Boyce, second from left, and Alice Boyce (not pictured) of Houghton. Also pictured here (from left) are Rev. Sydney Morris of the Keweenaw Unitarian Universalist Fellowship (KUUF), one of the sponsors of the lecture; facilitator Joan Chadde of the Lake Superior Stewardship Initiative, also a sponsor; and Carol Ekstrom of KUUF.

Dr. Boyce's lecture dealt with whether environmental protection and economic growth are mutually exclusive, as the conventional wisdom has it. Specifically, he presented evidence to show that local efforts and enlightened government policies can in fact enhance natural resources and reduce poverty as well.



In his introduction Dr. Boyce challenges the idea of a tradeoff between environmental protection and economic well being. (Video by Allan Baker for Keweenaw Now)

There are four ways to build natural assets, according to Boyce: investment, i.e., adding value; redistribution, i.e. democratizing access, as has often been done with land tenure; internalization, i.e., capturing benefits; and appropriation, i.e., defending the commons, as in preventing resources like the atmosphere (where there are no property rights) from being overburdened with waste.

(Click here for a video clip presenting the four ways to build natural assets.)

Two examples of investment are found in projects carried out by local people: mangrove restoration in Mexico and soil banking in Brazil.

In the first of these, after mangrove forests on the water's edge, which had been preventing erosion and providing habitat for aquatic species, were destroyed by Hurricane Pauline in 1997, locals worked together to replant them.

Soil banking in Brazil is an example of the creation of an anthropogenic (man-made) resource investment. When crops are burned in "slash-and-char" agriculture, a rich dark earth (terra preta in Portuguese) is deposited, providing fertile soil for crops in former jungle areas whose tall growth usually means that all the nutrition is aboveground. This shows that agriculture, depending how agriculture is carried on, is not necessarily an extractive process.



Dr. James K. Boyce explains soil banking in the Amazon region -- an example of man-made resource investment.

An example of an investment in a "commons" is to be found on the west coast of India, where the fish-stocks on which residents depend were being trawled up by factory ships from Taiwan or Norway, appropriating a commons on which the local fishing depended. In desperation, Kerala fishermen dumped concrete rubble in the water to interfere with the foreigners' nets.

They discovered a bonus: the rubble became artificial reefs which increased the fish population by a large margin, adding value to the unprotected resource. In New Jersey, trolley-cars have been dropped for similar purposes.

Very significant redistributions, or "democratizations of access," regarding land tenure –- with the slogan,"land to the tiller" -- led to economic growth in East Asia after the reforms of Gen. MacArthur (Japan) and Chairman Mao Zedong (China). Redistribution can also take other forms: Indigenous Amazonian rubber-tappers, rather than going under when their jungle was scheduled to be cleared for agriculture, were made residents of an "extractive reserve" that allowed these traditional people to harvest their assets sustainably. It is hoped that Peruvian copper sources can be mined in such a way that residents of the mining locations can get a share of the benefits instead of merely inheriting the damage.



Examples of redistributions or "democratizations of access" include land reform, sustainable rubber harvest and Peruvian communities' demands for rights over their mineral resources.

Internalization (the capturing of benefits) can be seen in El Salvador. There, local farmers can get rewarded for terracing the river banks to prevent erosion, or making other improvements in the agricultural infrastructure. Certified organic "Bird Friendly" coffee is shade-grown in Costa Rica, and consumers are willing to support the effort with premium prices for the superior product while helping preserve soil and wildlife. And the Forest Stewardship Council, founded in Oaxaca, Mexico, certifies the sustainability of timber -- another product which benefits producers, consumers, and the environment.

Another progressive sustainability development in Mexico is in situ conservation of genetic diversity in such crops as "heirloom" corn. Programs could be developed to reward farmers who preserve the gene pool from being lost to monoculture. Government and agribusiness policies currently pressure the farmers to grow cash crops like the hybrid corn grown in the rest of the world, whose breeds are vulnerable to disease.



Dr. Boyce points out the need to reward farmers for conserving crop diversity and protecting human food security for the future.

Appropriation (defending the commons) has become well-known to the public as "environmental justice," that is, defending the immediate environment of those who inhabit areas made dangerous by toxins in their air or water table. In most of the world, this is legal because nobody owns the water table or the air; and thus manufacturers of, say, throwaway plastic water-bottles in Port Arthur, Texas, are effectively claiming ownership of the local atmosphere as a place to stow their toxic effluent, while the cost is applied to their workers (and other local residents) in higher-than-average cancer rates. The establishment of rights (in this case, the rights of breathers) to what has previously been treated as a dumpsite appears to be the only just solution.



Dr. Boyce demonstrates how appropriation, or defending the commons, includes environmental justice, international carbon rights and national carbon rights.

Broadly, there are two approaches to defending commons such as air, water, and sites for our dangerous or simply unwanted byproducts. Demand-side policies modifying user behavior may be instituted, for example via investments in using energy efficiently or renewably. Development of mass transit is another example where policy influences consumer demand for vehicles with the associated pollution.

Supply-side policies, affecting the provision of energy or of an effluent sink, might be cap-and permit systems, where toxin-creators buy a permit to emit so many tons of gas or ash, or taxation of emissions. Just because it’s legal to pollute doesn’t mean it ought to be free.

Supply-side policies are important because in the short run they provide immediate reductions in carbon emissions; and in the long-run they provide incentives that in turn will induce demand-side changes.

So, which kind of supply-side policies would be more effective: caps or taxes? The two are very similar. Caps determine quantity and let the price adjust, and taxes determine price and let quantity adjust. When getting the quantity right is the most important objective, there is a case for preferring a cap.

Where would a cap-and-permit system for carbon emissions be applied: upstream (producers of energy), or downstream, i.e. tailpipe (or gas-exhaust, gas-stove, or power utility smokestack)?

Upstream capping would mean that permits would be applied wherever fossil fuels enter the economy, e.g. at ports, pipelines, or natural gas well-heads. There are approximately 2000 energy firms nationwide in the U.S., so administrative costs would be lower.

The price of supply-side policies would have to be paid in higher prices for fossil fuels, where inelastic demand would cause a very substantial rise in prices. For example, a 7 percent reduction in quantity of fossil fuels permitted in the U.S. would trigger roughly a 23 percent increase in price -- and a 7 percent reduction in quantity is just the beginning of what is needed to transition to a clean energy economy.

The effect of such a supply-side carbon cap is of course that the cost would be passed through to consumers. There are two ways we would pay: via direct purchases for energy, such as gas and electricity, and via the extra cost we would pay for goods and services which themselves use fossil fuel energy to do business. Direct and indirect costs could add up to $200bn per year. In absolute dollar amounts, lower-income families spend less on energy via both of these routes than higher-income families, but as a share of their income they spend relatively more. This is what economists call a "regressive" impact.

(Click here for a video clip on the costs to consumers.)

Dr. Boyce suggested three possible answers to the question of who will get the money that consumers pay in higher prices: "cap-and-giveaway," "cap-and-spend," and "cap-and-dividend."

In "cap-and-giveaway," free permits are issued to fossil fuel corporations. This means windfall profits for fossil fuel companies, which ultimately are shared amongst households in proportion to their ownership of corporate stocks.

A second alternative is "cap-and-spend," where government auctions permits to fossil fuel suppliers, and the revenues are retained by government. Revenues are then used as government sees fit -- perhaps to fund public investment, to fund other expenditures, or to cut taxes (and if so, whose?)

Finally, there is the alternative Dr. Boyce prefers: "cap-and-dividend," proposed in Congress as the Carbon Limits and Energy for American Renewal (CLEAR) Act by Sens. Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Susan Collins (R-ME). In this system, based on the principle of equal rights to the atmospheric "commons," permits would be auctioned to fossil fuel suppliers and revenues recycled to the public as equal per-person dividends. It is an example of a "feebate" system, with fees paid according to use, and rebates received by all according to equal ownership.



The "cap and dividend" system is based on the principle of equal rights to the atmospheric "commons."

Such a cap-and-dividend policy, if carried out, would have the following net impact on family incomes in the USA: Lowest 20 percent income, 14.8 percent increase; 2nd 20 percent income, 3.9 percent increase; 3rd 20 percent income, 0.8 percent increase; 4th 20 percent income, 0.95 percent decrease; Top 20 percent income, 2.4 percent decrease.

Cap-and-dividend creates long-run incentives for efficiency and alternative energy; asserts the principle of common ownership of nature’s wealth; curbs global warming, starting now; protects the real incomes of the majority; and creates progressive redistribution of income, Boyce concludes.

Dr. James K. Boyce fields questions from the audience at the end of his Jan. 11, 2012, presentation on "Environment vs. Economics" in Hesterberg Hall of Michigan Tech's Forestry building.

In response to a question, Dr. Boyce pointed out that, in the International Framework Convention on Climate Change, ratified by the U.S. Senate and signed by President Bush in 1992, the principles of "common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capacities" were accepted, meaning that the wealthier countries that caused most of the damage, and have more capability of remediation, should take the lead.

(Click here for a video clip of Boyce's reply to a question on national and international climate agreements.)

(Click here for Boyce's answer to a question on whether small businesses are disadvantaged by auctioning permits.)

For more information: Boyce, James K. and Matthew Riddle. Cap and Dividend: How to Curb Global Warming While Protecting the Incomes of American Families, Amherst, MA: Political Economy Research Institute, Working Paper No. 150, November 2007. Available on line at http://www.peri.umass.edu/fileadmin/pdf/working_papers/working_papers_101-150/WP150.pdf.

James K. Boyce is the author of Reclaiming Nature: Environmental Justice and Ecological Restoration (2007) and The Political Economy of the Environment (2002). His current work focuses on strategies for combining poverty reduction with environmental protection, and the economics of war and peace.

This lecture was sponsored by Lake Superior Stewardship Initiative, Michigan Tech Center for Water and Society, Keweenaw Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, and Keweenaw Land Trust.

*Editor's Note: Visiting author Barry Pegg is a retired Michigan Tech Professor of English (Humanities Dept.) and a member of the Keweenaw Unitarian Universalist Fellowship.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Celebrate Mardi Gras at NOSOTROS Carnival dance Feb. 18

NOSOTROS will host a Mardi Gras Carnival Latin dance this Saturday, Feb. 18. (Poster courtesy NOSOTROS)

HOUGHTON -- NOSOTROS invites you to a Latin dance celebrating Carnival and Mardi Gras! Following free salsa lessons from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m., dancing will be open floor from 9 p.m. to midnight Saturday, Feb. 18, in Michigan Tech's MUB Ballroom A.

The event is a colorful and unique celebration and the apparel is half the fun! Colorful costumes are worn, so dig out your hat, tiara, crown, boa, mask, costume or beads and be festive!

Come and dance salsa, merengue, bachata and much more! No partner needed! Family friendly! All levels! Free entrance!

King cakes and non-alcoholic drinks will be provided. Please, bring dancing or comfortable clean shoes.

This event is organized by NOSOTROS Latin Student Organization at Michigan Tech and supported by the USG.

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

Peaceful Uprising: Radio Interview with Tim from Prison

SALT LAKE CITY, UT -- KRCL, Salt Lake City's community radio station, recently interviewed climate activist Tim DeChristopher via phone from prison and included the recording for the first half of their "RadioActive!" progressive talk show. In the second half, Henia Belalia of Peaceful Uprising discusses PeaceUp’s latest and the filmmakers George and Beth Gage discuss their work on the upcoming documentary called Bidder 70.

At Eagle Rock -- on Aug.2, 2009 -- participants at Protect the Earth hold up cups of pure water during a ceremony of appreciation and prayer for keeping the water clean. Climate activist Tim DeCristopher, third from left, later poured some water from Salt Lake City, home of Kennecott Minerals, during the ceremony. (File photo © and courtesy Gabriel Caplett)

In the interview, DeChristopher, whom Keweenaw Now met at Protect the Earth 2009 at Northern Michigan University, comments on several issues, including the climate and Occupy movements (what they can learn from each other), the limits of growth, President Obama's first term, creative engagement in the political system as well as protest in the streets, laws that threaten civil liberties, and his prison experience as a time to reflect and "catch up."

DeChristopher was imprisoned a year ago for an act of civil disobedience. According to Peaceful Uprising, he is scheduled to be released into house arrest in February 2013.

Click here to listen to the interview, posted on Peaceful Uprising Jan. 30, 2012.

Visit peacefuluprising.org, a nonprofit collective committed to action to combat the climate crisis and build a just, healthy world.

Read about Tim DeChristopher's presentation at Protect the Earth 2009 in our article, "Protect the Earth 2009: Part 1."

Visiting Alaskan mushers to show documentary on Bristol Bay Feb. 21

HANCOCK -- Wonder how dogsledding, fishing and mining are related? Attend the event below and learn how the Mushing to Save Bristol Bay tour that's hit the Midwest this winter links them.

Tim Osmar, and Monica Zappa, two Alaskan dog mushers, have decked their sleds, truck and dog coats and traveled thousands of miles to bring attention to the dangers to Bristol Bay, Alaska, from a colossal open pit mining proposal called Pebble Mine. In Michigan, they'll race in the UP 200 dogsled race and host three screenings of a film about Bristol Bay, called, Red Gold.

The Copper Country Chapter of Trout Unlimited will host a screening of this film at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 21, at the Orpheum Theater, Home of Studio Pizza, 426 Quincy St., Hancock.

This event is FREE! Watch the award-winning documentary and talk with these Alaskan mushers about the fight to save Bristol Bay, Alaska. Enjoy free pizza and beer as you learn what you can do in Michigan to help protect Bristol Bay.

If you can't attend, please click here to learn more about Pebble Mine and the risks it poses to Bristol Bay and take action.

Follow Trout Unlimited on Facebook to stay up to date on the latest.

Green Film Series to present "Addicted to Plastic" Feb. 16

HOUGHTON -- The Green Film Series at Michigan Tech continues with the showing of the film Addicted to Plastic from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. TONIGHT, Thursday, Feb. 16, in G002 Hesterberg Hall, Michigan Tech Forestry Building.

The film will be followed by coffee, dessert, and facilitated discussion. It is FREE; a $3 donation is suggested.

This 85-minute film focuses on the worldwide production and environmental effects of plastic. Take a global journey to investigate what we know about this material of a thousand uses and why there's so darn much of it! On the way, discover a toxic legacy and the people striving to clean it up.

The discussion facilitator will be Michigan Tech Professor Judith Perlinger, Dept. of Civil and Environmental Engineering. Dr. Perlinger studies how the molecular structure of organic chemicals influences their transport and transformation in the environment.

The Green Film Series is partially funded with a grant from the League of Women Voters of the Copper Country, Friends of the Land of Keweenaw (FOLK) and the Upper Peninsula Environmental Coalition (UPEC).

The series is co-sponsored by the Lake Superior Stewardship Initiative, Keweenaw Land Trust, Michigan Tech Center for Water and Society and the Keweenaw Unitarian Universalist Fellowship.

Click here for more info on the movie.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Photos: Barnelopet family ski event at Maasto Hiihto

Young skiers take off for the non-competitive Barneløpet ski race at Maasto Hiihto trails in Hancock on Sunday, Feb. 12. (Photos © and courtesy Arlyn Aronson, unless otherwise indicated.)

By Michele Bourdieu

HANCOCK -- Keweenaw Now wishes to thank photographers Arlyn Aronson and John Diebel and blogger Gromit the Trail Mutt for covering the Fifth Annual Barneløpet ski event for children ages 3-17 and their parents. Here are some samples of their photos:

Gromit the Trail Mutt cheers for kids as they come across the finish line. Each young skier who completes the race receives an award from the Sons of Norway, who co-sponsor the event with the Keweenaw Nordic Ski Club.

"Barney Loppet means kids!!" says Gromit the Trail Mutt on her blog. "And kids are something I don't get enough of!"

"Here I'm playing 'hard to get,'" says Gromit.

The youngest skiers take off, some with a little help from parents.

Some skiers pick up a bit of snow by the time they reach the finish line.

Yum! hot chocolate and cookies are great for warming up in the Hancock Chalet after the race. Thanks to the volunteers for baking and serving these!

On her blog, Trail Mutt Reports, Gromit has posted today some new photos of the Maasto trails after they were re-groomed following the kids' race.

Here's a shot of the recently groomed gorge trail that runs along picturesque Swedetown Creek. Gromit says it's her favorite!

Here's a photo of the Rhino tow machine pulling the grooming implements along the gorge trail next to Swedetown Creek.

Click here to visit Gromit's blog, The Trail Mutt Reports, for more photos of her ski adventures, including her trips to Copper Harbor and Minocqua, Wis., with Arlyn and Sandy Aronson.

The Sons of Norway Ulseth Lodge and the Keweenaw Nordic Ski Club (KNSC) sponsor the Barneløpet ski event at Maasto Hiihto. KNSC's John Diebel took some great photos, including some of the older skiers heading down toward the gorge trail for the longer ski run. He has posted these as a special slide show. Here's a sample:

More adventurous Barneløpet skiers head down the Maasto Hiihto trails toward the gorge trail along Swedetown Creek. (Photo © and courtesy John Diebel)

Please click here for John Diebel's Barneløpet slide show!

Keweenaw Nordic Ski Club meets TONIGHT

HANCOCK -- The Keweenaw Nordic Ski Club (KNSC) will hold their monthly meeting at 7 p.m. TONIGHT, Wednesday, Feb. 15, at the Hancock chalet. All are welcome. Questions? Call Jay at 906-487-5411.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

From Headwaters: EPA: Air Pollution Laws Good for Jobs, Public

By Teresa Bertossi, with additional reporting by Gabriel Caplett
Posted on Headwaters News Feb. 12, 2012


At a recent meeting in Marquette, Susan Hedman, Great Lakes regional director for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) cited coal-fired power plants as the largest source of mercury contamination in the United States, a burden often suffered by citizens.

Speaking at Operation Action U.P.’s annual meeting, Hedman said, "I would suggest that [power plants] consider the cost that they have been imposing…on you, by failing to do their part. People who live and vacation in the Upper Peninsula can’t eat their fish because states haven’t been doing their part to solve the problem."

Hedman discussed the new Cross State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR), which will likely be implemented under the Clean Air Act. The rule -- finalized in December, but now stalled in court -- would reduce power plant emissions crossing state lines that contribute to ozone and fine particle pollution in other states. The rule would replace the EPA’s Clean Air Interstate Rule, adopted in 2005.

Recently adopted Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS) would further regulate mercury and other toxic emissions from power plants. In December a coalition representing 125,000 businesses in the United States wrote a letter urging President Obama to implement MATS....Read more.

Editor's Note: This is the second article from Headwaters News on EPA Region 5 Administrator Susan Hedman's recent visit to Marquette (Jan. 26-27, 2012). Click here to read the rest of this article.

See also Teresa Bertossi's first article, posted Feb. 12, 2012, "Headwaters News: EPA Talks Jobs and Regulation."

Letter: CR 595 is a haul road for Kennecott's Mine

Dear Editor,

County Road 595 is being built because of the mine at Eagle Rock. If there were no mine, there would be no road. It is a road for the mine -- a haul road. Kennecott needs to step up to the plate and do what is right, and it is the DEQ’s job to make them follow the law. This is a mine road and the mining company needs to take responsibility for it. They need to amend their permit to include this road. They need to increase their financial assurance to include the road, do an Environmental Impact Assessment, provide contingency plans, and address possible reclamation. These are the responsibility of Kennecott -- not the citizens of Marquette County.

If this road is built, County Roads 550, 510, and AAA will continue to be used for the next two years or until 595 is completed. After that, those roads will still be used for supplies and employees. Who is going to take care of those roads? Who will be paying for the upkeep and repairs? We have been told for years that money for road repairs and maintenance is scarce. Now the DEQ/Kennecott are asking us to support and take care of a new road whose main purpose is to help a huge international extraction corporation move its ore from the mine to the mill.

I understand why people do not want all this mining traffic coming through their town, on the roads they travel every day. I don’t want them in my backyard either, but they are there and will continue to be there into the future. And again the DEQ has not made the mining company responsible.

This issue should have been properly addressed in the original permit. From the beginning, the DEQ has allowed Kennecott to "make up their plans as they go." This is not what the law says should be done.

It is a haul road and the DEQ needs to treat it as such.

Carla Champagne
Big Bay, Michigan

Monday, February 13, 2012

Headwaters News: EPA Talks Jobs and Regulation

By Teresa Bertossi
Posted on Headwaters News Feb. 12, 2012
Reprinted and slightly updated with permission

MARQUETTE -- While citizens around the country fight to sustain their livelihoods, corporations have stayed one step ahead by exercising control over regulatory agencies and gutting, altering, and writing the very laws that regulate their operations.

From jobs to natural resources and elections, the regulatory system is increasingly being criticized for serving the interests of corporations, a concept supported at private sector economic development group Operation Action U.P.’s annual meeting. Themed "Jobs vs. Regulatory Burden," the meeting featured a panel representing the mining industry, as well as a keynote presentation by Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Great Lakes Region 5 Administrator, Susan Hedman.*

Promotional materials set the stage for the meeting, featuring an image of two boxing gloves, one representing the regulator, and the other the regulated corporation. However, had it been a real boxing match, it would have ended with a technical knockout shortly after Hedman’s presentation, as it became quite obvious that a majority of regulations today are not so much a burden to industry, as a service providing business security.

Hedman Addresses Legacy Contamination, Deregulation, Job Creation

Hedman’s presentation addressed two situations: the first included cases where contamination occurred because there were no regulations in place -- frequently the case with the legacy of contamination in Great Lakes Areas of Concern (AOCs); the second included locations where regulations were not adequately protective from the beginning. Hedman also demonstrated that environmental standards have helped to drive job creation in the U.S.

Hedman provided the audience with a tour of five AOCs that are found in the U.P. An AOC is a designated geographic area that shows severe environmental degradation. The five U.P. areas include the Menominee River, Torch Lake, Manistique River, the St, Mary’s River, and Deer Lake. Money for cleaning up these toxic legacies and controlling invasive species will come from Great Lakes Restoration Initiative funds -- the largest investment in the Great Lakes in two decades.**

Susan Hedman, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Great Lakes Region 5 administrator, speaks at Operation Action U.P.’s Jan. 27, 2012, annual meeting, themed "Jobs vs. Regulatory Burden," at Northern Michigan University. (Photos © and courtesy Teresa Bertossi)

In addition to legacy contamination clean-up Hedman also addressed deregulation issues. She cited the July 2010 Enbridge oil spill in the Kalamazoo River, near Marshall, Michigan -- the largest inland oil spill in Midwest history. Hedman added that there is a need in the region for company incentives and regulations to upgrade aging pipelines, including lines running near Lake Michigan in the UP.

"EPA doesn’t regulate pipelines," said Hedman. "We just clean up the spills when they happen."

She noted a comment by the Canadian Minister for the Environment, who observed during a meeting with EPA that if pipeline maintenance were funded as it is in Canada, pipeline companies would have real incentives to maintain pipelines.

"I don’t want to clean up any more of these spills," Hedman said.

Hedman also spoke about the new (December 2011) Federal Mercury and Air Toxics Standard that, for the first time, will require all coal-fired power plants in the United States to reduce mercury emissions. She explained also how the recent implementation of the Cross State Air Pollution Rule, under the Clean Air Act, would help control power plant emissions and contamination from one state to another, because of public health concerns.***

Hedman explained that money spent on emissions reductions for power plants has served to provide high quality American jobs associated with the creation, assembly, installation, operation and maintenance of pollution control equipment. She also gave examples of job creation in renewable solar and wind energy projects facilitated by restoration of brownfield sites.

"I’ve been talking about the enormous costs that we’ve incurred to restore the environment so that we can drink the water, eat the fish, go swimming and breathe the air without getting sick," concluded the Administrator. "At this point I think it should be clear that I completely reject the premise that environmental standards are a regulatory burden that interferes with job creation. And the evidence that I have just presented demonstrates that environmental standards actually can help to drive job creation."

Considering promotion of the event as combative, Hedman surprisingly faced little criticism and few questions from the crowd. Although Greg Andrews, U.P. representative to Governor Snyder, did comment on his concerns for cormorants in the region -- a question Hedman deferred to a different agency (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service). Most criticism of Hedman came the night before at a meeting of citizens, environmental groups and tribal representatives.

Tribes and Environmental Groups Accuse EPA of Failure to Act on Citizens’ Behalf

EPA Region 5 Administrator Hedman meets with tribes and environmental organizations on Jan. 26, 2012, in Marquette.

Perhaps Hedman’s knockout presentation was fueled by the heavy criticism she received the night before. While in town, EPA also attended two other meetings. Headwaters was not allowed to attend the meeting with road commissioners about a proposed mine road but was invited to a roundtable discussion with tribes and environmental groups.

The overall atmosphere of the roundtable discussion was one of citizen frustration with federal and state regulatory agencies. Participants commented that despite numerous efforts, including various communication efforts with the EPA, their concerns remain unaddressed on new mining in the region.

As Keweenaw Bay Indian Community (KBIC) President Chris Swartz explained, "The lack of federal programs for mining in Michigan leaves tribes vulnerable to the interpretation of Michigan laws by Michigan agencies alone."

Michigan is only one of two states with delegated authority to oversee most of the EPA programs, eliminating some tribal consultation requirements.

KBIC and Lac Vieux Desert informed the EPA that there was a heightened expectation by the tribes that EPA and other federal agencies exercise federal responsibilities and trust obligations directly by reviewing and critically commenting on mine-related permit applications in Michigan.

Michelle Halley, an attorney for the National Wildlife Federation, explained that was involved in battling the proposed Eagle Mine in Marquette County for nearly a decade and expressed her frustration with the EPA and the legal system.

"The legal challenge route is not a good solution. For one thing, most organizations and people don’t have the resources to do it; and even in this case, when we have had ample resources, the results have been abysmal quite honestly," said Halley.

Mining Company Panelists Satisfied with State Mining Laws

A panel of mining representatives ended the Operation Action U.P. meeting. Speakers included Adam Burley, President of Rio Tinto Kennecott Eagle Minerals; Dave Anderson, Director of Health, Safety, Environment and Government Relations for the Orvana Resources’ proposed Copperwood Project; and Mick Lawler, Senior Mine Manager for HudBay Minerals Inc.’s proposed Back 40 project.*

Panelists representing Rio Tinto, Orvana, and HudBay mining companies participate in the Jan. 27, 2012, Operation Action U.P. annual meeting at Northern Michigan University.

Although speakers expressed some regulatory concerns including business uncertainty, "hysteria" over mercury contamination, and the cost of water treatment systems, they were mostly pleased with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) and the State’s new nonferrous metallic sulfide mining regulation, colloquially known as "Part 632."

“I certainly don’t see regulation itself as a burden," said Rio Tinto's Adam Burley. "I’ve worked in many parts of the world, particularly in Africa, where lack of regulation, or particularly lack of enforcement of regulation, can lead to dire consequences. So I certainly see the value in regulation. I think the engagement that we had with respect to Part 632, the non-ferrous mining legislation, was as I understand a very broad engagement process which related the views of a range of stakeholders, including those that oppose and support mining in itself; and out of that was born a very stringent piece of legislation which we're proud to be able to comply with and go above and beyond many of those requirements."

Anderson also expressed his approval of the Part 632 process and the Michigan DEQ.

"The DEQ is a fantastic organization and I have nothing negative to say about them whatsoever," said Anderson. "I think Michigan is moving to get its reputation back on track…I think 632 moving forward was a good thing."

Headwaters asked Anderson if he had changed his mind or if the venue had only changed; at a meeting with citizens and environmentalists in Alberta, Mich., in December 2010, Anderson had lamented the weaknesses in federal and state regulations, including Michigan’s mining law.

At that time Headwaters had quoted Anderson as saying, "The U.S. is a long ways behind in environmental protection…The fact that the Clean Water Act was originally intended to end discharges to surface water obviously has not reached its goal and we basically, like 632 did, we created a process to allow these things to occur." ****

In this 2012 interview, Anderson expressed to Headwaters a new-found confidence: "Aside from the EU [European Union], the standards in the United States and the water quality standards of Michigan are much more stringent than other [sic] third world countries," Anderson said. "And, I think our country has the ability and the intelligence and the regulations that make it done safely."

Mick Lawler, of HudBay, also supported Burley and Anderson’s optimism in Michigan’s new mining law: "You know, investors demand the very best so there’s no way you’re gonna mine irresponsibly in an unsustainable fashion, because investors just demand that you do, and that’s why management systems are set up and followed and Part 632, although strict, we have no issue with it what-so-ever."

Mining Companies Influence Regulations Throughout the Great Lakes

There are a number of regulatory changes taking place in Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Michigan to stream-line application processes and improve tax incentives for mining and timber interests, so it should come as little surprise that the mining panelists had few complaints about the regulatory system, state mining laws or the EPA.

In Wisconsin a contentious mining bill, recently passed by the State Assembly, would move 40 percent of tax revenue from impacted communities and add it to state coffers, likely to help alleviate a projected $143 million in budget shortfalls. The bill would also include a law to cap the total amount of fees paid to the state at $2 million.

In Minnesota, there are plans to introduce legislation for a federal to state land exchange that would result in the loss of many tens of thousands of acres of national forest land and would help companies circumvent federal environmental laws in the Superior National Forest.

In Michigan, State Representative Matt Huuki and State Senator Tom Casperson, both Republicans, worked to implement Public Act 113, preventing local governments from zoning against mining projects. Plans are in the works to revamp the structure of taxes for mining companies that local governments and citizens worry will take much needed money from schools and communities closest to the mine.

But some communities and governments, such as the City Council in Duluth, Minnesota, are finding ways to fight back, transitioning from regulating corporate harms to stopping them by asserting local governance. Duluth recently passed a resolution supporting a constitutional amendment taking a stand against corporate personhood.

Notes:

* Click here for Operation Action U.P.'s Web site. Click here to see a video of Susan Hedman's presentation at their Jan. 27, 2012, meeting. It begins about 20 minutes into the video. Click here for presentations by the panel members from mining companies.

** Click here for a map of the Great Lakes Areas of Concern.

*** Click here to read about the Cross State Air Pollution Rule.

**** Click here for the Dec. 3, 2010, Headwaters News article about Anderson's presentation on the Orvana mine.

Keweenaw Land Trust to host free ice fishing Feb. 18

HANCOCK -- The Keweenaw Land Trust (KLT) invites you to try some ice fishing from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 18, at the Marsin Nature Retreat.

This is an opportunity for you and your children to experience the joys of being out on the ice while learning just how it’s done. Scott Pugh, experienced angler, has generously volunteered to set up a couple of tents on the Portage and share his fishing skills. He assures KLT the ice is safe. It’s FREE FISHING weekend, so all ages can fish without a license. Some fishing equipment will be provided. Scott will bring tip-ups and jigging rods to share, but bring your own gear if you can. The KLT will have a couple small of pop-up tents.

They’ll have a fire going in the outdoor shelter and snacks and games will be available inside the beautifully renovated Marsin Retreat. Curtis Perala is making his famous and delectable booyah (hunter’s stew) to share. Feel free to stay and socialize as long as you like.

Check the KLT Website for any changes and updates. Driving directions: From M26, take the Canal Road past Oskar 6 miles to the Red Brick Road, turn right and drive 1/8 mile to the Marsin, where you turn left into the parking area.

Questions? Call Carol Pfefferkorn at 231-6447.

Finlandia Gallery to exhibit work by Aimo Hyvärinen, Finnish photographer

Photography by Aimo Hyvärinen. (Poster courtesy Finlandia University)

HANCOCK -- The Finlandia University Gallery will present an exhibit of work by Finnish photographer Aimo Hyvärinen from Feb. 16 to March 20, 2012.

An opening reception for the artist will take place from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 16. An artist talk will begin at 7:15 p.m. The reception is free and open to the public; refreshments will be served.

Hyvärinen was ten years old when his godmother gave him his first photo album. Using his brother’s Kodak Brownie, and later his own Agfa Instamatic camera, Hyvärinen filled the album with photographs of snow-covered landscapes.

Hyvärinen’s exhibit at the Finlandia University Gallery, titled "Snow and Ice," combines a selection of these old photographs with some of Hyvärinen’s current work to capture the poetic and synergetic relationship between humans and snow.

Aimo Hyvärinen is also a filmmaker and there will be a special screening of two of his films at the Finnish American Heritage Center at 2 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 16. This event is also free and open to the public.

Päijänne Symphony (49 minutes) is a musical documentary about Lake Päijänne, a meeting place for people and nature. It is a positive story of a clean and beautiful lake in the middle of a country. Päijänne is the lake between east and west -- it is the soul of Central Finland. The music presented in the film is in the tradition of Finnish romantic music, which has always had its inspiration in nature. Works performed on strings and piano combine with the cinematography, harkening back to the style of "city symphonies," popular in Finland in the 1920s.

The Spirit of Folk Music (46 minutes) is a documentary film about the growth of the popular spirit of folk music. The film features two festivals; the musicians, organizers and audience are shown at the Viljandi Folk Music Festival and Kaustinen Folk Music Festival during the summer of 2010. The film explores the different ethos of two closely related nations -- Estonia and Finland.

The Finlandia University Gallery is in the Finnish American Heritage Center, 435 Quincy St., Hancock.

For additional information, contact gallery director Carrie Flaspohler at 906-487-7500.

Friends of Calumet Library to hold meeting, host Big Game Night this week

CALUMET -- Friends of the Calumet Public Library will hold their monthly meeting at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2012, in the library. The meeting is open to the public. New members and new ideas are welcome.

There are many ways to lend a hand at the library: programming ideas, volunteer opportunities, the Red Jacket Readers book club, and more! Come find out what's ahead in the upcoming year at the Calumet Public Library. Meetings are held the second Tuesday of each month at 5:30 p.m. in the library -- mark your calendar!

Big Game Night is also this week -- from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 15. Are you looking for something to do with friends and family, or would you like to meet some new people in your community? Come to the Calumet Public Library and enjoy an evening of word games -- Scrabble, Bananagrams, Boggle, Telestrations, and more!

The library will have some games available for those eager to play, but please bring your own to be sure! Beginners and experts alike are welcome. Try something new, or share your expertise with others. Participants of all ages are welcome. Bring a friend!

These events are sponsored by the Friends of the Calumet Public Library. For more information, visit the library or call 337-0311 ext 1107. (In case of bad weather, when school is cancelled, all library programs are cancelled.)

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Michigan Tech News: Michigan Tech celebrates Black History Month

During African Night 2011, Michigan Tech students, left, take an imaginary trip to Zimbabwe and, along with the audience in the Rozsa Center, enjoy a traditional dance by Tech students from Zimbabwe. This year, on Saturday, Feb. 25, African Night will again conclude Michigan Tech's Black History Month celebration. (Photo © and courtesy Pierre Bekwon of Burkina Faso.)

By Danny Messinger
Posted Feb. 8 and modified Feb 10, 2012
Reprinted with permission


HOUGHTON -- Michigan Tech University's Black Student Association (BSA) has kicked off its celebration of Black History Month -- a four-week-long recognition of the challenges and accomplishments of black Americans.

The theme of this year’s Black History Month events at Michigan Tech is "Black People in Focus: Educating Blacks in America." Tayloria Adams, president of BSA, says she aims to bring light to the challenges that black students face in higher education, including at Tech.

The first event, held Feb. 1, looked at the history of enrollment statistics for black students at Tech.

"The event went really well," said Adams. "We had Tech alums give accounts about what Tech was like in the 80s and 90s, and a current student talked about what Tech is like today for black students."

The following events are planned for the remainder of the month:
  • Access and Opportunities for Blacks in Silicon Valley, Thursday, Feb. 16, Fisher 138, 6 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.
  • Tech alum Hajj Flemings will talk about access to education and entrepreneurial resources for black students. Flemings was featured in the CNN documentary "Black in America."
  • Waiting for Superman, Wednesday, Feb. 22, M and M Building U115, 6 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.
    A documentary following public school students as they go through the lottery selection process for charter schools. Shezwae Fleming, director of the Center for Diversity and Inclusion, will lead a discussion following the film.
  • Addressing "Sense of Belonging" for Minorities in STEM, Thursday, Feb. 23, Fisher 230, noon-1 p.m.
    This lunch-and-learn presentation by Tech alum Kari L. Jordan looks at the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics community, and the struggles some minorities have to find their fit. The event is free, but please RSVP to Lori Weir (llweir@mtu.edu) by Feb. 21.
  • African Night, Saturday, Feb. 25, Rozsa Center for the Performing Arts, 7:30 p.m. - 10 p.m.
    As the capstone event of the Black History Month celebration, African Night will reflect on significant periods throughout African history through dance and song. Please contact the Rozsa Center at 906-487-3200 or click here to buy tickets on line. General admission: $10; students: $6.

Michigan Tech students perform a modern West African dance during African Night 2011 in the Rozsa Center. (File photo by Keweenaw Now)

Adams says she hopes the variety of events will help educate people about the many challenges for black students.

"Michigan Tech can be such an extreme place sometimes," she said. "The weather is extreme; the culture is extreme. I hope we can bring attention to potential challenges black students everywhere face, and that we can make a positive difference."

All events include refreshments and are free, unless otherwise noted.

Updated: Stand for the Land: Rio Tinto continues push for wilderness haul road

This map, displayed at the Sept. 19, 2011, Marquette County Road Commission meeting, shows the 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. (Photo of map by Keweenaw Now)

From Stand for the Land
Posted Feb. 10, 2012
Reprinted with permission.

MARQUETTE -- Marquette County Engineer-Manager Jim Iwanicki scheduled meetings this week with staff from the offices of US Rep. Dan Benishek, US Senators Debbie Stabenow and Carl Levin, and Governor Rick Snyder.*

The purpose of his visit, as reported in the Marquette Mining Journal, was to make sure the lawmakers were "up to date" and to "provide them with any information they might need and ensure the road commission is doing everything it needs to do."

Michigan’s state legislators have passed several key laws recently that will benefit extractive industry in the State:

Road commissions and the Michigan Department of Transportation are now exempt from mitigation permit requirements for work within existing road right-of-ways.

Local government zoning ordinances may no longer prohibit the extraction, by mining, of valuable natural resources unless "very serious" environmental consequences would result.

The process for granting easements across state land has been revised, and it is now mandatory to grant an easement if certain conditions are met, primarily if it isn’t an "environmentally sensitive" area.

State regulatory officials, including DNR Director Rodney Stokes, are helping things along, also.

According to a Michigan Association of Timbermen May 2011 legislative update, "Michigan’s new director of the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has stated on numerous occasions that he is reaching out to the state’s timber, oil/gas and mining industries to see if there are any state rules that create a hindrance toward them doing business in Michigan."

And Governor Snyder has made it clear that UP timber and mining offer key opportunities for filling Michigan’s coffers -- which leads us back to Kennecott’s haul road.

Never mind that a nearly identical route was submitted in 2009 and subsequently rejected by both state and federal regulators primarily due to adverse effects on wetlands.**

Kennecott’s parent company, Rio Tinto, in their arrogance, expects to get what they want.

The DEQ (Michigan Department of Environmental Quality) will hold a public hearing on the CR 595 proposal from 6 p.m. - 9 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 21, at the Country Village Banquet and Conference Center in Ishpeming, Michigan. Concerned citizens may submit comments, both oral and written. Click here for more information.

Click here to read Big Bay resident Carla Champagne's letter,"Purpose is to haul."

Editor's Notes:

* In response to our inquiries on the Road Commission meetings in Washington this week, Keweenaw Now received this statement from Tara Andringa, Sen. Levin's press secretary, on Thursday, Feb. 9: "Senator Levin’s staff met today with members of the Marquette County Road Commission at the commission’s request. Among the topics discussed was the proposed County Road 595 project. Senator Levin’s office has heard from parties on both sides of this issue. At this stage in the process, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality is the lead agency considering the project. MDEQ will hold a public hearing on February 21 where members of the public can register their opinions, and Senator Levin will monitor that process."

Ms. Andringa added later, "The staff has had communications with EPA on it."

** For background on the wetlands issue and the original role of the EPA in regulating this road, see Gabriel Caplett's March 11, 2011 article,
"EPA to Respond to Levin, Stabenow’s Rio Tinto Road Request," in Headwaters News.

Update: See Gabriel Caplett's Feb. 12, 2012, letter to the editor, "Digging for truth," in today's Marquette Mining Journal.

Visit SavetheWildUP.org for important information and links concerning this road issue.

Visit the Marquette County Road Commission Web site for links to the permit application to the DEQ for County Road 595.