Friday, January 31, 2014

New Groundwater Discharge Permit proposed for Lundin Eagle Mine: Analysis by Michelle Halley

[Editor's Note:  The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) is seeking to renew the Lundin Eagle Mine’s Ground Water Discharge Permit. MDEQ has extended the comment period and will soon announce a public hearing on the permit. According to Save the Wild U.P. (SWUP), the renewal permit contains significantly weakened environmental regulations. SWUP has posted an analysis of the proposed permit by attorney Michelle Halley for Freshwater Future, an organization working to ensure the healthy future of waters in the Great Lakes region.]

By Michelle Halley for Freshwater Future*
Posted on Save the Wild U.P. Jan. 29, 2014
Reprinted in part with permission


Exceedances and MDEQ’s Failure to Act and Backwards Regulation

During the current permit period, the mine has exceeded it limits at least 47 times, in at least the following constituents and characteristics:
  • pH;
  • arsenic;
  • copper;
  • lead;
  • molybdenum;
  • silver; and
  • vanadium.
MDEQ has taken no enforcement action. In fact, the mine has exceeded its vanadium limit more than 20 times. Instead of enforcing the limit, in this renewal permit, MDEQ is easing the limit.** This is completely backwards. The MDEQ’s role is regulator, not conciliator. The limits were set, supposedly based upon sound science, as MDEQ strenuously argued during the months-long contested case that encompassed the current groundwater discharge permit. Now, rather than protecting water quality, the draft simply increases the limits to industry’s preferred levels. The facility’s performance should be required to meet the regulatory standards rather than the regulatory standards being adjusted to meet the facility’s performance. ...
Click here to read the rest of this analysis on Save the Wild U.P.

Editor's Notes:
* Michelle Halley, former National Wildlife Federation attorney and senior manager, is also the author of a 2012 report titled "Sulfide Mining Regulation in the Great Lakes Region: A Comparative Analysis of Regulation in Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Ontario." Learn more about Freshwater Future on their Web site.
** See also "DEQ proposes new groundwater discharge permit for Eagle Mine; public hearing to be announced."

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