Monday, March 26, 2018

EPA objects to issuance of Aquila Back Forty Wetland Permit

Posted March 15, 2018, by the Mining Action Group on their Web site. Reprinted in part with permission.

The Aquila Back Forty property, as viewed from Wisconsin side of the Menominee River. A large open pit sulfide mine is proposed for this site. (March 10, 2018, photo © Deborah Skubal and courtesy Mining Action Group.)

STEPHENSON, Mich. --The Front 40 Environmental Group and the Mining Action Group (MAG) of the Upper Peninsula Environmental Coalition (UPEC), along with their regional environmental allies and fishing organizations, applaud the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) significant objections to the issuance of the Aquila Back Forty Wetland Permit.

The EPA’s objections were announced in a March 8, 2018, letter to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ).* Federal concerns are detailed in a supporting document, representing the combined comments of the EPA, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The EPA’s letter identifies seven primary areas of concern regarding the wetland application, and directs the DEQ to resolve those concerns within 90 days.

Sixty Islands section of the Menominee River, riparian wetlands located approximately 200 feet from the proposed Project Boundary. Aquila Back Forty Mine site. (Jan. 9, 2018, photo © Kathleen Heideman and courtesy Mining Action Group.)

In conclusion, the letter states, "This letter constitutes a federal objection to the issuance of a permit for this project. Pursuant to CWA (Clean Water Act) § 404 (j) and the CWA 404 MOA Section 5(d)-(e), the MDEQ has 90 days from the date of this letter to work with the applicant to resolve the issues raised above or deny the permit. The MDEQ may request a public hearing on EPA's objection. If the State does not satisfactorily resolve this objection within 90 days after the date of this letter, or within 30 days after the completion of the hearing if one is held, authority to process the CWA Section 404 permit transfers to the Corps (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers) by operation of law."*

* Click here to read the EPA's March 8 letter to DEQ.

Click here to read the full article from the Mining Action Group (formerly Save the Wild U.P.), stating the EPA objections and reactions to their decision from several environmental and fishing groups.

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