Saturday, March 29, 2014

Guest article: Statement in response to DEQ Public Hearing on Eagle Mine Groundwater Discharge Permit

By Dana Ferguson*

It was very encouraging to see the community get out and ask valid, concerning questions in a respectable way regarding a very important topic: the environmental well-being of our land and water. While the DEQ, with the assistance of certain Lundin employees, attempted to address as many of the questions as possible, I can't help but feel many of the expressed concerns were not abated. Nor can I say that this was solely the fault of the DEQ.

Many of the insufficient or unsatisfactory responses were the result of there being lax, or no, regulations or standards in place to reference. These would have to be addressed at the state and federal level by our legislators. But we cannot, nor should we, relinquish all responsibility to those few involved in the legislative process. The community must play a larger part in this story, for it concerns them, their home, and their future. The voice of a strong community is far louder than the voice of a politician.

If Lundin and the DEQ can show that our community and environment will not be adversely impacted at all, then there may be a strong case to halt the resistance. But I believe it is their burden to prove.

It is dangerous and irresponsible to tempt a community which has been hit with unemployment and hard times with a promise of jobs, and with no regard to the future of that community. The promise of jobs right now may not make up for the consequences of when those jobs leave. This is not an obstinate stance, it is a valid concern regarding the future of a community. This is our home and we should be making decisions which make our home a better place to live, not just now but in the future as well. We must move forward with our eyes open. We must be cautious. Do we take the chance of sacrificing, or negatively impacting, one of our largest industries, tourism, as well as possibly damaging our irreplaceable natural treasures for the sake of a few jobs? How do we know what the tradeoff will be? We do not have to sacrifice our beautiful and unique home at the expense of jobs.

There are ways to bring jobs here which will allow us to keep the integrity of the U.P. in place. This should be our goal. It is too important to be ambivalent on the topic, so I encourage people to play a part in this discussion.

* Editor's Note: Guest author Dana Ferguson of Negaunee, Mich., is a potential candidate for Michigan's 1st District Congressional seat now held by U.S. Rep. Dan Benishek. He attended the March 25, 2014, Michigan Department of Environmental Quality Public Hearing on the Groundwater Discharge Permit for the Eagle Mine and offered his comments on the hearing to Keweenaw Now. To learn more about Dana Ferguson, visit his Web site, Ferguson for Congress or his Facebook page. (Inset photo: Dana Ferguson. Photo courtesy Dana Ferguson)

Watch for Keweenaw Now's video report on the March 25 hearing, coming soon.

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