Thursday, June 28, 2012

Updated: MDEQ to hold public hearing on Orvana Copperwood Project TONIGHT, June 28, in Ironwood

LANSING -- Today, Thursday, June 28, 2012, is the final day of the public comment period for Orvana Resources US Corp’s proposed installation and operation of a copper mining and ore processing facility known as the "Copperwood Project." a public hearing will be held TONIGHT, June 28, 2012, starting at 7 p.m. C.D.T. at Gogebic Community College, Lindquist Student Center -- Courtside Dining Area, 2nd Floor, E-4946 Jackson Road, Ironwood, Michigan. The sole purpose of the public hearing will be to take formal testimony on the record. During testimony, questions will not be answered; however, staff will be available to answer questions outside the hearing room.

Prior to the hearing, an informational session will be held from 5:30 p.m. until 6:30 p.m. C.D.T. also at Gogebic Community College, Lindquist Student Center -- Courtside Dining Area, 2nd Floor, E-4946 Jackson Road, Ironwood, Michigan. Staff will provide a brief introduction regarding the proposed project and will be available to answer questions.

The facility is proposed to be located in Ironwood (T49N R46W) and Wakefield (T49N R45W) Townships, Gogebic County, Michigan. The public comment period and hearing are to allow all interested parties the opportunity to comment on the Department’s proposed conditional approval of a Permit to Install (PTI). It has been preliminarily determined that the installation of the Copperwood Project will not violate any of the Department’s rules nor the National Ambient Air Quality Standards. The facility’s impact will not exceed 80 percent of the available increments for sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and particulate matter less than ten microns.

According to Steve Casey, MDEQ Water Resources Division district supervisor of the Upper Peninsula District Office, who will be chairing the meeting, the Public Hearing is for the Air Quality, Wetlands and Inland Lakes and Streams permits.

"We will have the staff person who is preparing the NPDES water discharge permit in attendance too," Casey said. "So the public will be able to comment on air, water, wetland/inland lakes and streams issues (which will cover tailings placement)."

Update: The deadline for written comments on the water, wetland/inland lakes and streams permit is July 8, 2012.

Casey gave a general description of the Copperwood project at the Houghton Keweenaw Conservation District annual meeting in March 2012. Here is a video clip from his presentation at that meeting:

During the Houghton Keweenaw Conservation District annual meeting in March, 2012, Steve Casey, MDEQ Water Resources Division district supervisor of the Upper Peninsula District Office, gives a brief overview of the Orvana Copperwood project for a copper mine near Wakefield, Mich. Casey will chair the public hearing on permits for the project -- to be held TONIGHT, June 28, at Gogebic Community College in Ironwood.

Detailed information on the Copperwood project can be found in the Feasibility Study posted on the Orvana Web site and in the permit application on the MDEQ Web site.

Written comments should be addressed to Ms. Mary Ann Dolehanty, Permit Section Supervisor, MDEQ, AQD, P.O. Box 30260, Lansing, Michigan, 48909-7760. Comments may also be submitted from the webpage: http://www.deq.state.mi.us/aps/cwerp.shtml  (click on "Submit Comment" under the Orvana Resources US Corp, Permit to Install No. 180-11 listing). All statements received by June 28, 2012, will be considered by the decision-maker prior to final permit action.

Editor's Note: We originally posted the announcement of this hearing and public comment period on June 10, 2012. This is a reminder. Click here for the original article.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

National Wildlife Federation releases report comparing sulfide mining regulation in Great Lakes region

By Michele Bourdieu

MARQUETTE -- National Wildlife Federation (NWF) Attorney and Senior Manager F. Michelle Halley recently released a report titled "Sulfide Mining Regulation in the Great Lakes Region: A Comparative Analysis of Regulation in Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Ontario."

At a meeting preceding the Lake Superior Binational Forum meeting, "Mining Impacts and Lake Superior: A Basinwide Approach," in Ashland, Wis., last March, National Wildlife Federation (NWF) Attorney and Senior Manager F. Michelle Halley presents a summary of a recent NWF report on sulfide mining. The full report was published in March. (Photo by Keweenaw Now)

Halley, who edited the report, writes, "Water is the most important natural resource in the Lake Superior basin and the long-term value of fresh water far outstrips that of any mineral or any mine. Sulfide mining is well known for its negative impact on water. This report's analysis and the subsequent recommendations offer proactive steps to protect the water, people, and traditions of the Great Lakes Basin."*

Halley hosted a Webinar on the report on June 21, 2012. Before that, she presented a summary of the report at a meeting in Ashland, Wis., preceding the March 23, 2012, Lake Superior Binational Forum meeting, "Mining Impacts and Lake Superior: A Basinwide Approach."

In both presentations Halley emphasized the poor quality of sulfide mining regulation in all three states and Ontario.

"The neighboring states of Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota, as well as the province of Ontario, operate independently of one another when it comes to permitting, regulating, and monitoring prospective mines," Halley says. "And yet water is not constrained by state borders and neither are pollutants. The environmental impacts of sulfide mining in one of these jurisdictions may reach well beyond its border. Federal oversight of permitting and monitoring new mines is severely limited, but sorely needed."*

Halley noted in the Webinar the names and locations of several sulfide mines in Michigan and Minnesota that are receiving permits or in the process of applying for permits to mine copper, nickel, gold and other metals whose recent increased demand and value has attracted multinational mining companies to the Great Lakes Region. She mentioned two Michigan mines that have already received permits from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality: Rio Tinto's Eagle Mine near Big Bay, Michigan -- already permitted and now under construction with mining projected to begin in 2014 -- and the Orvana Copperwood project located near the Porcupine Mountains State Park, only a few miles from Lake Superior, which recently received a Michigan Part 632 mining permit and is now applying for a wetlands permit (Part 303) and Inland Lakes and Streams permit (Part 301) and the air permit-to-install. A public hearing on these permits is scheduled for this Thursday, June 28, at Gogebic Community College in Ironwood.**

This map shows locations of proposed mines and potential deposit areas, some under exploration, in the Lake Superior Basin, as well as national parks, national forests and tribal lands. Click on map for larger version. (Map courtesy National Wildlife Federation)

A third project, Aquila's Back Forty near Menominee, Mich., Halley said, could be submitting a permit application this summer. In Minnesota, several areas are being explored and the North Met (Polymet) project may be the closest to being permitted. Right now they are revising their Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA). In Wisconsin, Gogebic Taconite recently withdrew their project to mine the Penokee Hills with an open-pit mine that was connected to a failed move by the Wisconsin legislature to change the mining law; but changes in that law may still be forthcoming, Halley noted.

Halley also mentioned two mines impacting Native American reservations in the West. Impacts from the Zortman and Landusky open-pit gold mines in Montana included a 50,000-gallon cyanide spill, pollution of public water systems, poisoned fish and wildlife and contaminated Native American sacred sites. Pollution from the Silver Valley mines in Idaho's Coeur d’Alene River Basin, adjacent to the Coeur d'Alene Reservation, resulted in a 21-square-mile Superfund site and more than a billion dollars in damage.

This aerial photo of Rio Tinto-Kennecott's Eagle Mine near Big Bay, Michigan, shows Eagle Rock, an Anishinaabe sacred site, at right, which is now surrounded by the mining company's fence and is penetrated, at lower right, by the portal to the mine. Michelle Halley, representing NWF, has joined with tribal representatives in contested case litigation against Kennecott and the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality that permitted the mine. In NWF's recent Webinar, Halley compared contamination of sacred Native American sites by mines in the West to this contamination of Eagle Rock. (Photo © and courtesy Jeremiah Eagle Eye. Reprinted with permission.)

Halley said she gave these examples just to point out that mines -- even what are considered "modern" mines -- can and do have very serious impacts on watersheds and may affect large areas of land.

Potential regulators of mining, she added, include tribes, local governments, state agencies and federal agencies.

"Tribes can be regulators," Halley said. "They can institute on reservations regulation -- It's normally called a TAS (Treatment as a State). That means that tribes can set their own water quality standards and air standards."

These regulations can apply to activities on the reservation and also activities off the reservation if they impact the reservation, she explained. Tribes have to go through a process with the federal government to obtain TAS status.

In a May 10, 2012, NWF press release on the report, Jordan Lubetkin notes, "Sulfide Mining Regulation in the Great Lakes Region also reviewed the role of tribal governments in the permitting process and found that jurisdictions failed to consider tribal perspectives or have denied meaningful tribal input into decision making. This is despite the fact that tribal entities have substantial land holdings and treaty rights across the Upper Great Lakes region."***

Local governments can be regulators as long as their regulations do not duplicate or conflict with state regulations, Halley explained. She encouraged representatives of local government to get involved in regulation.

NWF report ranks mining regulation in three states, Ontario 

This NWF report looks at three Great Lakes states and the province of Ontario as regulators. It compares these states in five areas: Regulatory Scope (what the state law says about what the agency should be doing), the Review Process (how thoroughly it is done), Enforcement, Program Resources (whether the agency has resources to monitor adequately), and Reporting and Official Statements (how monitoring information gets out to the public).

The research for the report included taking in all the info they could about these five areas in the whole region, surveying the laws, interviewing regulators from each of the states (and Ontario) and interviewing non-governmental groups.

"We really tried to get a broad view of how people view what's happening," Halley said.

Since Halley is involved in ongoing litigation related to Michigan laws, she felt it was inappropriate for her to conduct research for Michigan so NWF hired a temporary person to conduct the primary research for Michigan so it would be more objective. EcoJustice Canada did the Ontario research and rankings for Canada.

The rankings in the five categories were Good (little room for improvement), Fair (adequate or nearly adequate, but room for improvement) and Poor (failure to fulfill any or most of criteria for the category).

The report gives this summary of the rankings:

MICHIGAN: FAIR for two categories: Regulatory Scope and Reporting and Official Statements; POOR for the other three categories.

The report states, "Overall, Michigan lacks significant requirements for adequate regulation. Its laws are adequate, while acknowledging some major weaknesses like the lack of any siting requirements. Michigan’s largest weaknesses are Review Process (lack of stringent review of permit applications) and Enforcement. The failure in these areas is fueled by the lack of adequate Program Resources." (See pp. 6-7 of report for more detail on Michigan's rankings.)*

MINNESOTA: FAIR in all five categories.

"The law is adequate, but economic considerations appear to be a growing force resulting in legislative and policy changes designed not for environmental protections, but economic development," the report states.*

WISCONSIN: GOOD in two categories: Enforcement and Reporting and Official Statements; FAIR in the other three categories.

The report summarizes Wisconsin's enforcement thus: "The enforcement authority granted to Wisconsin’s DNR and to the public is the most extensive of any jurisdiction surveyed. It is marked not only by multiple opportunities and mandates for state enforcement actions, but also by open access for citizen participation in state enforcement actions and even direct citizen lawsuits against violators of the mining law. The one deficiency in this assessment category is the lack of a systematic monitoring scheme for the state to independently inspect and evaluate mining and reclamation activities."*

ONTARIO: FAIR/POOR in Regulatory Scope; FAIR in Enforcement and in Reporting and Official Statements; POOR in Review Process and in Program Resources.

"Ontario is in dire need of improving its laws (underway) and review processes. Of the upper Great Lakes region, Ontario is far and away the least equipped jurisdiction to regulate and facilitate public involvement in the establishment of new mines," notes the NWF report.*

"None of the states are adequately prepared to regulate this activity," Halley said. "At this point in Ontario the companies don't even need to obtain a mining permit at all."

During the Webinar, Halley did not address Ontario's issues in detail. She said she knew some people in Canada are working hard to address them. Halley noted the report's recommendations for all three U.S. states and some recommendations for individual states' issues.

Recommendations in common for the three states are these:
  • Improvement in coordinating the efforts of the agencies responsible for different aspects of permitting, monitoring and enforcement of a mining project. "In some cases there's very little communication going on among those agencies," Halley said. 
  • State or federally-conducted independent monitoring should be done regularly and be funded by the permittee.
  • Tribes should have meaningful involvement in permitting and monitoring on the basis of being sovereign nations. Consulting with tribes is not enough. Information from tribes should be incorporated into agencies' decision-making.
  • Mine plans should include such goals as workers' safety, long-term viability of the mine, economic plans for long-term community health, reasonable taxation, community priorities such as zoning, etc.
  • Laws should require that public funds not be committed to a project that has not completed and passed environmental review.
  • Penalties, royalties and fees should be used for regulation and remediation of nonferrous metallic mining -- not for other purposes.
Halley summarized these recommendations for Michigan:
  1. Exploratory activity should be regulated and better monitored.
  2. Environmental assessment should not be done by the applicant alone, but by the state. 
  3. Lack of siting criteria is a major shortcoming. "As of right now, there is no place in Michigan -- no matter how unique, how pristine, how highly valued by the public -- that is not open to mining," Halley noted. "It's a serious -- probably the most critical -- shortcoming in Michigan's laws from a wildlife perspective."
  4. At present, very long, cumbersome legal cases are needed to challenge a state's lack of enforcement. "Citizens should be allowed to initiate civil enforcement actions if the state is not taking sufficient action," said Halley, who has been involved in a lengthy legal case against Kennecott and the MDEQ concerning the Eagle Mine. 
Loopholes in Clean Water Act

Under federal enforcement, Halley pointed out that loopholes in the Clean Water Act (CWA) -- one of the Environmental Protection Agency's strongest tools -- allow waste materials from mines to be dumped into surface waters of the United States.

The original goals of CWA (in 1971), Halley noted, were "to restore and maintain the chemical, physical and biological integrity of the waters of the US and to eliminate the discharge of pollutants into the waters of the US."

The use of any of river, stream or ocean as a waste treatment system was unacceptable.

In the mid-70s the EPA determined a zero discharge standard for some categories of mines was reachable and it was instituted, Halley added.

"If these same standards were still enforced today, the limitations would prohibit the hard rock mines from storing their untreated waste in waters of the United States," Halley said.

The first loophole is this: For about the last 20 years, agencies' rule changes determined that waste treatment systems are not waters of the U.S., Halley explained. This allows mines to impound rivers, streams, lakes, wetlands and dump untreated waste into the impoundments since they are not considered waters of the U.S. While the law originally applied to man-made waters, the interpretation changed in the 1990s and refers to other waters, not necessarily man-made.

During her presentation on the NWF report in Ashland, Wis., Michelle Halley points out the first loophole in the Clean Water Act, which allows mines to dump untreated waste into waters of the U.S. by impounding rivers, streams, lakes and wetlands. Click on photo for larger version. (Photo by Keweenaw Now)

The second loophole concerns the definition of fill, which allows toxic mining waste to be treated as fill and dumped into waters.

With this slide, Michelle Halley explains how the 2002 CWA definition of "fill" allows mining companies to dump toxic waste into waters of the United States. Click on photo for larger version. (Photo by Keweenaw Now)

According to Halley, simple rule changes could close these two loopholes in the Clean Water Act: First, agencies could go back to the original interpretation of a waste treatment system and allow waste disposal only in manmade waters. Second, agencies could revise the definition of "fill" to exclude waste disposal.

Those changes would make federal government's ability to regulate mining waste "astronomically" better than it is now, Halley concluded.

Lubetkin's article cites Tony Turrini, senior counsel at the National Wildlife Federation, on the role of the federal government in protecting waters of the Great Lakes region:
"'Where the states fall short of protecting the Great Lakes, the EPA should close the gaps,' said Turrini. 'But, it is not. In fact, EPA needs to fix loopholes in its rules that allow the dumping of millions of tons of mine waste into surface water.'"***

Lubetkin also cites reactions to the report from environmental leaders in Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Canada -- among them Chuck Brumleve, mining specialist for the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community; Brad Garmon, director of conservation and emerging issues at the Michigan Environmental Council; Scott Strand, executive director of the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy, who expressed concern about a potential mining project near the Boundary Waters Canoe Area; George Myer, executive director of the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation; and Anastasia Lintner, staff lawyer with Ecojustice Canada.***

In conclusion, Halley said greater federal oversight is necessary to provide consistency across jurisdictions, assess cumulative basin-wide impacts, facilitate inter-agency coordinated review and monitoring, and provide much-needed technical resources.

The report calls especially for improvement in regulatory scope and enforcement at state, federal and provincial levels.

Notes:

* Click here for Michelle Halley's May 4, 2012, article introducing the NWF report on sulfide mining.  Click here to to download the full report, "Sulfide Mining Regulation in the Great Lakes Region: A Comparative Analysis of Regulation in Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Ontario."

** Click here for our announcement about the June 28 hearing on the Orvana Copperwood Project.

*** Click here for Jordan Lubetkin's article on the NWF report.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Pasi Cats to play dance music June 29 at Hancock Waterfront

HANCOCK -- PasiCats will return to action with new look on Friday, June 29, at Hancock Rocks event. The event takes place at Hancock Waterfront (next to Copper Island Beach Club).

The PasiCats, with Pasi Lautala on accordion, are pictured here at the Chassell Pavilion. This Friday, June 29, they will play a variety of dance music from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Hancock Waterfront near the Copper Island Beach Club. (Keweenaw Now file photo)

A warm-up band will play from 6 p.m. - 7 p.m. and PasiCats 7 p.m. - 9 p.m.

"Bring those dancing sandals, sneakers or moccasins," says Pasi Lautala.

Calumet's Pasty Fest to offer pasty bake-off, Great Pasty Chase Walk/Run, fun for all June 30

CALUMET -- Calumet, Michigan, will once again celebrate one of the Keweenaw Peninsula’s iconic foods with its annual PastyFest this Saturday, June 30, 2012, at Agassiz Park.

The celebration will include The Great Pasty Chase at 9:30 a.m., the PastyFest Parade at 11 a.m., and live music, free horse-drawn tours, food, kids' games, a horseshoe tournament and a host of artisans, craftspeople and vendors from around the area beginning at 11:30 a.m.

One of the central pillars of the day is the annual pasty bake-off. The competition is free and open to all comers whether private individuals or commercial enterprises, with separate categories for each. The winners in each category will receive a copper pasty engraved with their names -- and will have bragging rights for the next year!

Click here to get a bake-off entry form and a schedule of activities for the day -- or stop by the Main Street Calumet office at 200 Fifth Street, Calumet. You can mail the entry form, take it to the office or bring it with your entry on Saturday between 9 a.m. and noon. Judging for the competition begins at 1 p.m. and the winners will be announced at 4 p.m.

 For additional information or questions please contact Main Street Calumet at 906-337-6246.

Second Annual Great Pasty Chase is Saturday morning, June 30

The second annual Great Pasty Chase 5k walk/run is slated for 9:30 a.m. Saturday, June 30, in historic downtown Calumet. The race will begin sharply at 9:30 a.m. with a course starting and ending in downtown Calumet on 5th Street. Registration will open at 8 a.m. at the corner of 5th and Portland.

There is a $10 fee associated witht the race, which includes a water bottle. All funds raised will be donated to the Calumet Wolverines Hockey Club and Main Street Calumet.

All participants are invited to join in the festivities of PastyFest following the race!

All questions can be directed to Dylan Whittaker, dwhitta@mtu.edu.

Dave Morehouse to perform at Portage Library's "Music on the Menu" June 29


HOUGHTON -- The Portage Lake District Library invites everyone to bring a lunch and enjoy "Music on the Menu," an outdoor series of events held on the dock outside the library.

Musician Dave Morehouse entertains with several instruments. Here he is pictured at the Ed Gray Gallery in Calumet. He will be featured at "Music on the Menu" at noon this Friday, June 29, outside the Portage Lake District Library. (Keweenaw Now file photo)

Dave Morehouse will carry his eclectic vision of music out to the audience from noon to 1 p.m. on Friday, June 29. He will be opening with a few fiddle and mandolin tunes and will continue by performing some solo guitar and vocal work featuring both original tunes and classic covers. Sometime during the performance he will briefly wield an accordion or concertina; but, rest assured, he has filled out and submitted the required permits and alerts with proper authorities. The music will be good, but more than anything, he promises to have fun.

Morehouse has been playing both acoustically and electrically for more than forty years. Beginning as a lad on the acoustic guitar, he expanded his playing to electric guitar and mandolin. Over the years he fell in love with every instrument he ever picked up and was driven to learn, play, and own each of them. Today he owns and plays a variety of stringed, bowed, and reeded instruments; and music remains his passion and mainstay.

Everyone is invited to eat, relax, and enjoy the lunch hour while listening to some great music. In the event of bad weather, the program will be held in the community room.

This event is part of the library’s Summer Reading Program and is free and open to all. For more information, please call the library at 482-4570 or visit www.pldl.org.

Finlandia's Maki Library holding Book Sale June 26-29

HANCOCK -- The Finlandia University Maki Library, Hancock, is conducting a Book Sale from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. each day from Tuesday, June 26, to Friday, June 29.

The library is selling reasonably priced, lightly used fiction and nonfiction books, audio books, textbooks, posters, magazines, and audio materials, including vinyl record albums and cassette tapes. Purchases may be made by cash or check only.

The Finlandia University Maki Library is on the first floor of Wargelin Hall. Free parking is available on Summit Street and Franklin Street.

For information, please contact Maki Library at 906-487-7252 or maki.library@finlandia.edu.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Isle Royale for Kids: Become a WebRanger!

HOUGHTON -- The Portage Lake District Library will host a series of summer programs about Isle Royale that is just for kids.

On Wednesday, June 27, Isle Royale National Park Rangers Lori Honrath and Barb McTaggart will present "Get Caught Up in the WEB and Become a WebRanger" from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. at the Library. Kids will be introduced to an exciting Web site where they can learn and enjoy fun-filled activities about our national parks, monuments, and historic areas. Honrath and McTaggart will show kids how to access the Web site, get their WebRanger I.D. card, set up their ranger station, and begin all the fun activities at the site.

The Isle Royale Summer Series for Kids is suitable for kids of all ages.

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

Kids can learn to identify animal tracks at Portage Library Storytime June 27

HOUGHTON -- During the summer, Storytime at Portage Lake District Library will be held at 11 a.m. every Wednesday.

This Wednesday, June 27, Storytime will be presented by Katie Searl and Brian Rajdl and their children -- Anna, Fisher, Myrica, and Lain. They will read stories about animal tracks. Kids will learn how to identify animals by the tracks they make, and they will make their own set of animal tracks to take home.

Visit the Portage Library's Web site at www.pldl.org for more information.

Teachers learning about Great Lakes watershed at Michigan Tech Teachers Institute

Michigan Tech's research vessel, the Agassiz, will help teachers learn about Great Lakes water quality during the 5-day Great Lakes Teachers Institute this week. (Photo courtesy Michigan Technological University)

HOUGHTON -- Middle and high school teachers from Michigan and Ohio are spending the week at Michigan Technological University, at a 5-day Great Lakes Teachers Institute. The 14 teachers will learn about the Great Lakes watershed, water quality, wetlands ecology, stream monitoring and more. Then they will work on ways to bring Great Lakes information into their classrooms in an engaging way.

Hands-on activities include a trip on Michigan Tech’s research vessel, the Agassiz, and a research field trip to Gratiot Lake, where the teachers will collect samples and compare the Great Lakes watershed to that of an inland lake.

Dollar Bay High School Enterprise teacher Matt Zimmer and Doug Oppliger, head of Michigan Tech’s High School Enterprise program, will demonstrate the operation of an ROV (remotely operated vehicle) that the high schoolers designed and built. The underwater ROV is used to help National Park Service rangers at Isle Royale National Park locate, monitor and study invasive zebra mussels in the waters of Lake Superior.

Outside the Portage Lake District Library, Dollar Bay science teacher Matt Zimmer, second from left, chats with students, parents and kids during a demonstration of the student-designed Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs), or underwater robots, students took to Isle Royale recently. This week teachers at Michigan Tech's Great Lakes Teachers Institute will learn how the robots help monitor and study invasive species. Also pictured are students Justin Rogan, left, and Samantha Richards. Nathan Olson, right, of Hubbell, accompanied his son Riley Olson, 6. (Keweenaw Now file photo)*

Institute leaders include Michigan Tech Professors Alex Mayer and Marty Auer of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering; Joan Chadde of Tech’s Center for Science, Math and Environmental Education; Bonnie Hay, program director of the Gratiot Lake Conservancy; and graduate student James Bass.   

The teacher institute is sponsored by Michigan Tech’s Center for Science and Environmental Outreach. Funding is provided by the Michigan Tech Center for Water and Society, the Gratiot Lake Conservancy and the Michigan Space Grant Consortium.

Twelve teachers from Michigan, Indiana and Minnesota attended a five-day Global Change Teacher Institute at Michigan Tech last week. The institute prepared middle and high school teachers to engage their students in real-world studies of the effects of global change on ecosystems, including the impacts of climatic change on forests due to elevated carbon dioxide and ozone levels, nitrogen saturation, acid rain and invasive species. Professor Andrew Burton of the School of Forest Resources and Environmental Science and two graduate students, Micki Jarvi and Carley Kratz, were lead instructors for the institute. 

* Click here for our May 28, 2012, story on the Dollar Bay students' robotics demonstration at Portage Library.

WUPPDR offers land consultations for UP biofuel initiative

HOUGHTON -- Landowners with 20 or more acres in Baraga, Gogebic, Houghton, Iron, and Ontonagon Counties who would be interested in growing biofuel crops on their land are encouraged to contact the Western Upper Peninsula Planning and Development Region (WUPPDR) for a free land consultation.

Last week, WUPPDR sponsored a free workshop for landowners in the five-county target area through a grant provided by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and assistance from the Community Adjustment and Investment Program.

The workshop, organized by WUPPDR, focused on the opportunities for area landowners to turn their idle land into income-producing biofuel cropland through research provided by Robert Froese, Michigan Tech School of Forestry. In addition, Roger Woods from the Michigan Tech School of Business and Economics educated landowners on the benefits of forming a cooperative in the five-county focus area. Zach Halkola from Traxys Power was also on hand to present the successes of the L’Anse Warden Electric Company and White Pine Electric Power.

To encourage landowner participation in the UP biofuel initiative, WUPPDR has hired a forestry technician, Spencer Townsend, to conduct a free land consultation with interested landowners. The site visit will include an assessment of the land, which will help generate a cost estimate to clear, plant, and maintain the land for biofuel crops. As part of the assessment, Townsend will take GPS points of the land, make notes on the existing vegetation and species composition, test the soil pH, and look for potential slope, access, and watershed issues. Once this information is collected, he will also meet with the landowner to discuss the management practices of the land, their goals for the land, and their interest in a biofuel crop cooperative.

Landowners interested in the consultation are encouraged to sign up at www.upbiofuel.com or to call 906.482.7205, ext. 321. They will be assisted on a first-come, first-serve basis until mid-August.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Reception for Scott Dianda, candidate for Michigan's 110th District Representative, to be held in Iron River June 25

By Michele Bourdieu

  CALUMET -- "Pizza with Scott," a reception for Scott Dianda, Democratic candidate for Michigan's 110th House seat, will be held from 4:30 p.m. until 7 p.m. on Monday, June 25, at The Station Restaurant in Iron River, Mich. There is no charge for the event and it is open to the public. A variety of pizza and beverages will be available.

An RSVP can be made by calling 906-228-8196 or by e-mail to mbtc2@charter.net.

"I would like to invite my friends, supporters and interested voters to come and visit with me about the issues of concern across the 110th District," said Dianda.

Photo, top, left: Scott Dianda, Democratic candidate for Michigan's 110th House seat. (Photo courtesy Scott Dianda Campaign)

Dianda speaks to supporters in Laurium

Clarence McDonald, chairman of United Auto Workers (UAW) Retirees of the Western U.P., introduces Scott Dianda to supporters gathered at a reception for the candidate at the Irish Times Restaurant in Laurium June 13, 2012. (Photos by Keweenaw Now)

Public education, jobs, infrastructure, local control of government and PA 38 (which Dianda opposes because it will tax seniors' pensions and give tax breaks to wealthy corporations) were the main issues Dianda discussed during a reception held for him on June 13 at the Irish Times Restaurant in Laurium. Democrats from Houghton and Keweenaw counties attended the event and expressed their support for Dianda's campaign. He emphasized his wish to represent the people of the 110th District, which covers seven counties, from Marquette County and Ishpeming Township to Copper Harbor, to Crystal Falls and west to Ironwood.

Here is a brief video clip of Dianda speaking at that event:

Scott Dianda, Democratic candidate for Michigan's 110th District House seat, speaks to supporters at a reception held for him at the Irish Times Restaurant in Laurium, Michigan. Click on YouTube icon for a slightly larger screen. (Video by Allan Baker for Keweenaw Now)

Dianda also expressed his thanks to Democrats for their endorsements of his campaign, in particular, former state legislators Mike Lahti, Mike Prusi, and Paul Tesanovich; United Auto Workers retirees represented by Clarence McDonald; and the Michigan Nurses Association.

Lahti, former 110th District Representative, expressed strong support for his fellow Democrat and would-be successor.

"I think Scott's a good man," Lahti said. "He works hard. He understands what we in the UP are concerned about; for example, he wants strong schools and jobs so our people can stay here."

Keweenaw County Democrats attending the reception in Laurium included, from left, Jacquie Jaaskelainen, Keweenaw County Democratic Party chair; Frank Stubenrauch, Keweenaw County Commissioner; Angie Piche; Don Piche, Keweenaw County Commissioner; Gordon Jaaskelainen (not facing camera), Keweenaw County Road Commissioner; and Tom Renier.

Many local residents who attended the reception have known Scott Dianda, a Calumet native, for a long time and told Keweenaw Now of their support for his campaign.

John Parsons, a retired teacher who taught at Calumet High School for 33 years, said Scott was a student of his years ago.

"I do think he has a chance," Parsons said. "I support public employees. We've taken such a hit. We can't have the entire state government be in the hands of one party -- it's not good. We need balance.

Another retired teacher, Judy Rupley of Chassell, who taught elementary school in L'Anse for 32 years, said she herself is running as a Democrat to represent Houghton County District 5 on the County Board of Commissioners. It is her first time running for public office.

"We need Democrats running -- not only for District 5, but for all of Houghton County," Rupley said. "We're all in this together for the good of the people."

Judy Rupley of Chassell (left), candidate for District 5 on the Houghton County Board of Commissioners, is joined here at the Laurium reception for Scott Dianda by other Houghton County Democrats, from left, Mike Makinen, Houghton County Prosecuting Attorney; John Laitanen, Franklin Township Trustee; Reba Andrews; Pat Sohlden; Clarence McDonald, chairman of UAW Retirees, Western U.P.; and Janet Gregorich, Houghton County Democratic Party vice-chair.

Rupley added she would like to see District 5, which includes Chassell as well as Duncan, Portage, Elm River, Laird and Stanton townships, as a place where businesses would be welcome to create opportunities for employment and where people would want to live in a clean environment with good schools.

Another Democratic candidate for Houghton County Commissioner, Rick Kasprzak, who is running for County District 1 (Hancock and Calumet townships), also expressed his support for Dianda.

"I'm enthusiastic about supporting Scott because I know he will be the voice of Houghton County in Lansing," Kasprzak said. "We have a lot of possible representatives for our interests here in the UP, but it's going to take the rest of us to help put them in office. We have to knock on doors and talk to friends, relatives and neighbors and inspire them to go to the voting booth and make a difference. And one of the things I thought I could do to make a difference is to run for County Commissioner."

Rick Kasprzak, candidate for Houghton County Commissioner, and Scott Dianda, candidate for Michigan's 110th District House seat, chat with Joanne Thomas of Allouez (Keweenaw County) during the reception for Dianda in Laurium.

Dianda, in turn, said he supports Kasprzak's candidacy for Houghton County Commissioner.

"I've got everything good to say about this guy," Dianda noted.

While Dianda did not mention the name of his opponent, Republican Matt Huuki, who defeated him for the 110th District seat in 2010, Brian Rendel, Houghton County Democratic Party co-chair, did not hesitate to make a comparison.

"Scott works hard," Rendel said. "His heart is in the right place. We need a representative in Lansing who represents the people of the 110th District. We don't have a representative in Lansing right now. I don't think Representative Huuki is living up to his title. He represents special interests and Republican leadership in Lansing. He does what they tell him to do. We need a representative of the people."

Learn more about Scott Dianda by visiting his Web site.

Click here for a partial list of 2012 Democratic candidates on the Houghton County Democratic Party Web site.