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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Letter: Additional orebodies in the UP: Its future hangs in the balance, in your hands

By Jack Parker

THE QUESTION: A concerned citizen, Sara Culver, asks a good question: How many potential mines are known to exist in the UP, other than the Kennecott Eagle project? What are we letting ourselves in for?

THE QUICK ANSWER: We, the people, do not know. The mining and exploration companies, primarily Kennecott, Prime Meridian and possibly Aquila, have some answers but do not share them.

Let us count them, to the best of our ability.

1. The Kennecott Eagle on the Yellow Dog Plains is the furthest ahead, flagrantly disregarding the mining laws to get into production.* Their application for permits came out in February 2006, disclosing about 4.5 million tonnes of exceptionally high grade ore -- enough to last ten years, they said, later changed to eight years, now six. (A metric tonne = 2205 pounds). I expect to learn later that both tonnage and value were understated, just as they were understated at Kennecott’s Flambeau mine in Wisconsin -- as if to minimize the impact.

2. Also at the Eagle property we know of about a BILLION DOLLARS’ WORTH of leaner ore, referred to as "disseminated sulfides," which they do not intend to mine. A responsible operator would blend the leaner ore with the high-grade to recover more of the values and to extend the life of the mine another 12 to 16 years.

If the State of Michigan’s incoming administration has the intestinal fortitude to enforce the state requirement to ensure responsible recovery of our resources, the disseminated sulfides become a second orebody.

3. At last year’s Annual Meeting Rio Tinto disclosed something we already knew about -- a significant amount of ore east of Eagle Rock, which they refer to as Eagle East, not yet fully defined at depth. I would count that as a third.

4. We already knew of several additional targets within a few miles of the Eagles, but Rio Tinto-Kennecott only hints at these. Although these ores are hidden by younger rocks and by glacial sand and gravels, their presence is disclosed by "airborne geophysical mapping," which senses gravity, magnetic and electromagnetic properties associated with metallic ores. I will be conservative and assume that only one of them will be an orebody. That makes four.

5. When Kennecott first disclosed some results from their airborne surveys, they told us they had about 35 promising targets on and around the Plains. Can we assume that 10 percent will work out? Say three of them? That would make seven.

6. Prime Meridian has done its own airborne surveys and plans on diamond-drilling one of them this winter, in Section 35, north and west of the Eagles. Eight?

7. Prime Meridian tells us that they have three or four additional targets on their mineral rights within two or three miles of the Eagles. Total now nine?

8. West of the Plains, within the KBIC Reservation but on a parcel of private land, another copper/nickel orebody has been drilled already. It is ore-grade -- sometimes recognized as one percent combined nickel and copper -- not as rich as the Eagles. Ten!

Still in the UP but west of the Porkies State Park is the Orvana Copperwood deposit, much like the White Pine orebody, ready to apply for permits. Eleven!

And in the Lower Upper Peninsula, at the Wisconsin border, lies the Aquila orebody, primarily zinc and gold.


And not just the mines -- but all that comes with them. Think about that.

All are waiting to see the outcome of the Kennecott Eagle permitting process -- whereby the would-be mine operator will say anything, promise anything, do anything -- to get the permits from an unqualified agency -- and think about details later, as they have done at the Eagle and at the Flambeau operations.

It is obvious that neither the DNR nor the DEQ, nor even the Federal EPA, has funds and qualified manpower to evaluate and oversee even one operation; and we are inviting disaster. More than one such operation would bring chaos.



Jack Parker, Mining Engineer, Baltic Michigan 49963

* Author’s Note: For more information on this aspect of the Kennecott Eagle mine, email Jack Parker at

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas wishes from Keweenaw Now

Keweenaw Now sends wishes for a very blessed and happy Christmas to all our readers! (Image: Postcard circa 1900)

Friday, December 24, 2010

Midnight Poet: Christmas Light

By Mick McKellar*

I have walked abroad on Christmas night, and in the silence of the cold, felt the warmth of brilliant lights gleaming from windows and rooftops, as they twinkled on freshly fallen snow. Shuffling my boots through several inches of winter white made little or no noise and the sighing of a whispering breeze through pines and between houses took over, singing a carol that coldly caressed my face and hands. The touch of snowflakes on my face felt like the feather touch of Christmas lights reaching out to welcome my spirit and warm my soul. I felt I could fly, borne aloft on lights alone.

Alas, Christmas walkabout will remain only a memory this year, as we can't have old Mick tottering about in the snow after dark. Yet, were I to fly home, I would love that it be on a crisp, cold Christmas night and that I be carried home on the red and green and golden beams that break from a thousand gleaming windows on the eve of peace and love.

Christmas Light

Through all the piercing cold and precious chill,
And all a winter's night of silence beamed,
The wondrous warmth and distant twinkling thrill,
Of lights all red and green and gold, which gleamed
Upon the road ahead's unbroken white.
Snow softly silenced footsteps as he tread,
And gazed at icy darkness, pierced by light
That danced upon his path, as forward lead
He felt the ancient night of love embrace,
His heart and spirit dancing in his chest;
And with the Christmas lights upon his face,
He softly flew home to his blessed rest.

*Editor's Note: Guest poet Elwin "Mick" McKellar is a free-lance writer and resident of Laurium, Michigan. To read more of his work, visit his blog, "Out of my mind," at The above text is reprinted with permission.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Letter to Mining Journal: Changes are coming

By Thomas Polkinghorne, Champion
Posted Dec. 19, 2010

MARQUETTE -- To the Journal editor:

I take exception to County Board Chairman Gerald Corkin's comments reported in The Mining Journal on Oct. 19. Corkin stated opponents "later opposed the Woodland Road, designed as an alternative. Now they oppose the alternative to the alternative."

Corkin wants us to believe people opposed everything. The fact is, the "alternative" is nearly a twin to the original Woodland Road.

In addition, no evidence was given by the road commission that they considered any other route. A thinking, functioning board would have displayed all of the proposed routes and discussed with the public the pros and cons of each. ... Read more in the Marquette Mining Journal.

Editor's Note: Thomas Polkinghorne of Champion, author of this letter, and County Commissioner Gerald Corkin are both quoted in our Oct. 25, 2010, article, "Opponents of proposed 'public' mine haul road call for more public input."

Monday, December 20, 2010

From Mining Journal: Professors, knowledge and the politics of mining

[Editor's Note: Here is an excerpt and a link to the Dec. 19, 2010, opinion from Jon Saari, retired Northern Michigan University (NMU) professor, published in the Marquette Mining Journal.]

By Jon Saari

MARQUETTE -- ...In recent years, the mining controversy in our region has drawn NMU faculty into its vortex. At least five faculty members (three retired, including this writer) have been active opponents of the Eagle Project on the Yellow Dog Plains, while a number of others have seen it as an opportunity for professional research, even collaboration with a new multinational mining corporation.

Such diverse reactions are to be expected in an academic subculture of free thinkers and professional entrepreneurs.

But one recent collaboration between two NMU faculty members and Kennecott Eagle Mineral Company has a number of observers raising their eyebrows.... Read more on the Marquette Mining Journal.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Community Arts Center hosts exhibit by Jens Carstensen

"Down to the Lake II," Oil, by Jens Carstensen, whose work is now on exhibit at the Copper Country Community Arts Center in Hancock through Dec. 24, 2010. Click on photos for larger versions. (Photos by Keweenaw Now)

HANCOCK -- "I find more and more that a painting will remind people of something that has happened in their own lives. There is nothing a painter loves more than making a connection with the viewer."

These are the words of Jens Carstensen; and for us to make a connection with the artist it may be as easy as a visit to the Copper Country Community Arts Center, where his paintings are currently on exhibit. Carstensen’s work is mainly about how he sees landscapes.

Farming Country, Oil, by Jens Carstensen.

According to the Geographer, Donald Meinig, "Any landscape is composed not only of what lies before our eyes but what lies within our heads."

Clouds, water, trees, roads, barns, and bathers: All of these elements of landscape are translated into brushstrokes by Carstensen and communicate scenes of familiarity that are visual, but also emotional.

"Fractured Sky," Oil, by Jens Carstensen.

"A landscape," Carstensen says, "is state of mind. When I look at the hills, the cornfields, the woods, I am filled with an impression which I want to capture on 2-D canvas. I am always asking myself: What is the inner image of a scene I am witness to, and how close is my painting to that inner image?"

He often draws on impressions from his time spent in the Western Lake Superior region. Carstensen has a second home in Michigamme, where he often paints local landscapes.

"Straight and Narrow," Oil, by Jens Carstensen.

"In Michigamme I have access to a place that affords peace, light, and freedom from distractions," he notes.

Friederike Roach, who represents Carstensen at the Moonshine Gallery in Michigamme, observes that Jens’ "deft use of color brings out the interplay of light between transient clouds, living vegetation, and solid human-made objects."

When Jens Carstensen translates what he sees into paint on a canvas we, the viewers, are witness to a way of seeing that is particular to Carstensen’s experiences. He was born in Brooklyn, NY, raised in Denmark, and spent many years in Madison, Wis., on the faculty of the University of Wisconsin -- not teaching art, but working in pharmaceutical research. For Jens, art and science combine in the use of shape and color to "focus and capture the mood I first experienced in a certain place."

This exhibition can be seen at the Copper Country Community Arts Center’s Kerredge Gallery through Dec. 24. Gallery hours are Tuesday through Friday 10 a.m. - 6 p.m. and Saturdays 1 p.m. - 5 p.m. The Community Arts Center is located at 126 Quincy Street in Hancock.

Youth Gallery: Art by students in CLK Schools

An exhibit of art by K-12 students in CLK (Calumet-Laurium-Keweenaw) Schools is now in the Youth Gallery of the Copper Country Community Arts Center.

"Summer Memory," by Karlee Chute, third-grade student at Calumet Elementary School. (Photos by Keweenaw Now)

CLK art teachers are Susan Rosemurgy and Debbie Mues. The exhibit will continue through the month of January.

"Portrait of Thomas Jefferson," by Abbey Koskiniemi, fifth-grader at CLK Elementary.

Tempera by Brian Torola, 12th grade student at Calumet High School.

Ceramics by Byron Parks, Grade 11, Calumet High School.

The Community Arts Center also has a wide selection of art for sale. Check it out for your last-minute holiday shopping. For more information call (906) 482-2333 or visit the Web site:

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Carnegie Museum to hold Open House Dec. 16

HOUGHTON -- The Carnegie Museum's Annual Holiday Open House will be held from 3:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. TODAY, Thursday, Dec. 16. The public is invited to enjoy snacks, hot chocolate, and the completed gingerbread houses on display, including the walk-through playhouse. At 4 p.m. Chris Alquist, Portage Lake District librarian, will read stories; and at 5 p.m. members of the Copper Country Suzuki Association will perform a small concert.

The Holiday Exhibit continues through Saturday, Jan. 8, 2011. Hours: Tuesdays noon - 7 p.m., Thursdays noon - 5 p.m., Saturdays noon - 4 p.m. Closed Saturday, Dec. 25, and Saturday, Jan. 1.

As a special for the holidays, in addition to regular hours, the museum will be OPEN from noon - 5 p.m. Wednesday, DEC. 29.

Click here for Keweenaw Now's Nov. 27 article on the gingerbread houses and more on the Carnegie Museum in Houghton.

Click here to visit the Carnegie Museum Web site.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Maple Sugar Folk to lead French-Canadian song, dance in Lake Linden Dec. 17

LAKE LINDEN -- Maple Sugar Folk will lead an evening of French-Canadian music and dance from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 17, at the Little Gem Theater in Lake Linden.

Accompanied by Dave Bezotte on organ, Maple Sugar Folk sing the favorite "Oh Christmas Tree" in English, French ("Mon beau sapin") and German ("O Tannenbaum") at the Chassell Heritage Center and Museum Dec. 12, 2009. Singers are, from left, Barry Pegg, Ralph Horvath, Amanda Binoniemi, Karin Schlenker, Janet Wieber (behind Schlenker), Marcia Goodrich and Barbara Lide (seated next to Bezotte). This year the group will perform French-Canadian favorites at the Little Gem Theater in Lake Linden this Friday, Dec. 17. (2009 Video clip by Keweenaw Now)

The program will include traditional response songs and Christmas songs with plenty of opportunities to sing along, French-Canadian dance tunes for listening and dancing, and an opportunity to learn two French-Canadian folk dances. The event is part of Lake Linden’s Christmas Festival taking place on Friday and Saturday.

Favorite French songs will include "Il est né," "Un Flambeau Jeanette Isabelle," "Douce Nuit" (tune of "Silent Night"), "Cantique de Noël" (tune of "O Holy Night"), Mon Beau Sapin (tune of "O Christmas Tree"), "Alouette" by the father-son duo Wellesley and Christian Pereira, "Chevalier de la Table Ronde" by Barry Pegg and more ...

The Lake Linden Christmas Festival takes place in downtown Lake Linden from Friday, Dec. 17, through Sunday, Dec. 19.

Friday events will also include a Christmas Light Parade and Tree Lighting of the Love Light Tree at 5 p.m. on the main street. All are welcome and line-up is at 4:30 p.m. After the Maple Sugar Folk music event, the Little Gem Theater will be showing the movie Scrooge.

A Christmas Craft Show will be held at the Lake Linden Hubbell Elementary School Gym from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 18. Santa will be available for visits during the show. At 3 p.m. the movie Home Alone will be shown at the Little Gem Theater.

On Sunday, Dec. 19, the Lake Linden-Hubbell School Band and Choir Concert will take place at the school at 2 p.m.

For more information call 906-296-2066.

Keweenaw Nordic Ski Club board meets Dec. 15; skiing good on Maasto Hiihto

Gromit the snow dog has fun on Maasto Hiihto trails. (Photo © 2010 and courtesy Arlyn and Sandy Aronson)

HANCOCK -- The Keweenaw Nordic Ski Club (KNSC) will meet at 7 p.m. TONIGHT, Wednesday, Dec. 15, at the Hancock Chalet. All are welcome. Questions? Call Jay Green, KNSC president, at 487-5411.

Ryan Holt posted this trail report for Maasto Hiihto yesterday, Dec. 14: "Dragged, leveled, and set track on all trails at Churning and Maasto this morning and afternoon. Trails are firm and in very good to excellent condition except for the portion of Mud Lake Loop between Tomasi Rd. and the east gate at Churning. We'd call this trail a bit bumpy, but otherwise good."*

Last week Arlyn Aronson, trail boss, reported Holt dragged most of the trails as seen in the photo of Sandy Aronson and Gromit the snow dog below.

Sandy Aronson and Gromit the snow dog check out the trails on Maasto Hiihto the first week in December. Trails are even better now with last weekend's snowfall. (Photo © 2010 and courtesy Arlyn and Sandy Aronson)

Arlyn Aronson also reported last week that he and George Houle cleared branches that were pulled down by heavy snow.

"This was mostly in the area commonly called 'the triangle' or the 4-way intersection in Churning Rapids plus on the new trail called trail 4, from Tomasi Rd. up to Churning Rapids," Aronson said. "Some of these areas were impassable after that heavy snow. Please thank George for his help, next time you see him."

George Houle is seen here while rolling River Trail #4 on Maasto Hiihto. Gromit the trail dog supervises. (Photo © 2010 and courtesy Arlyn and Sandy Aronson)

Learn more about the Keweenaw Nordic Ski Club and Maasto Hiihto Trails on the KNSC Web site.

Joanne Thomas practices her 180-degree turn on St. Urho's trail at Maasto Hiihto today, Dec. 15. (Photo by Keweenaw Now)

*Visit Keweenaw Trails for updates on snow conditions for various cross country trails in the area.

Monday, December 13, 2010

PasiCats' Pikkujoulu warms Brownstone Hall with song, dance

By Michele Bourdieu

On Sunday, Dec. 12, Pasi Lautala on accordion, Oren Tikkanen on banjo and Dave Bezotte on keyboard -- joined by singer Megan Plis -- lead the Pikkujoulu (Finnish Little Christmas) audience in singing Christmas carols in Finnish and English at the newly remodeled Brownstone Hall in Atlantic Mine. Click on photos for larger versions. (Photos by Keweenaw Now)

ATLANTIC MINE -- The first ever Pikkujoulu (Finnish Little Christmas), hosted Sunday, Dec. 12, by the PasiCats at the newly remodeled Brownstone Hall in Atlantic Mine, was an international, intercultural event. Despite the cold, snowy weather, the festivities attracted a diverse group of Finns, Finnish-Americans and others from local communities as well as international students from Michigan Tech.

Finnish students from Michigan Tech University helped lead the singing of Christmas carols in their own Finnish language during the Dec. 12 Pikkujoulu (Finnish Little Christmas), hosted by the PasiCats at the Brownstone Hall in Atlantic Mine. Pictured here are, from left, clockwise, Janne Vartiainen, Outi Vartiainen, Jukka Simila, Linda Kartano and Hanna Nummila.

The audience first enjoyed singing along with Christmas Carols in both Finnish and English, accompanied by Pasi Lautala on accordion; Oren Tikkanen on banjo, guitar and mandolin; and Dave Bezotte on keyboard. Song sheets with the Finnish words were provided. Pasi was joined by Finnish students from Michigan Tech in leading the Finnish carols, and a young singer, Megan Plis, who led the singing in English. Some favorites -- like "Silent Night" and "Jingle Bells" -- were sung in both languages.

Finnish students from Michigan Tech join Pasi Lautala on accordion and Oren Tikkanen on guitar in singing Finnish songs.

After the singing, dancers warmed up fast to the PasiCats' repertoire of waltzes, polkas, fox trots, country tunes and even tango and humppa.

Dancers do a lively Finnish schottische to "Deck the Halls." Joining Lautala and Tikkanen to play dance music are PasiCats "Paris" (Bob) Hiltunen and Mike LaBeau.

Meg Pachmayer and Anna Leppanen of Finnsight offered yummy baked goods, hot coffee and the irresistible glögi -- a hot and spicy fruit punch with secret ingredients revealed only to those who bought a Christmas card with the recipe. Shopping bags, CDs, and flash cards for learning Finnish were also available for sale.*

Launching their new business, Finnsight, are Meg Pachmayer, left, and Anna Leppanen. Among the homemade goodies they sold at Pikkujoulu were prune cookies, cinnamon rolls, cake with mocha frosting and, to drink -- glögi and Finnish coffee.

According to the Finnsight Web site, the new company will soon be selling Finnish products online. Their purpose is to preserve Finnish language and culture by creating and designing Finnish-themed gift items and educational tools for people with Finnish roots, Finnish friends, or just a Finnish interest.

These Iranian students -- all graduate students at Michigan Tech -- ventured out in the cold to learn about Finnish customs, songs and dances at the Dec. 12 Pikkujoulu celebration in Brownstone Hall. Pictured from left are Amir Gheitasi,Kosur Khaksari, Hosna Ajilian and Hamed Pouryousef.

Susie Landers and her husband, Tim Landers, are responsible for the transformation of the old St. Mary's Hall into the Brownstone Hall -- a new venue for dances, parties, wedding receptions and more.

Susi Landers, right, joins Anna Leppanen at the Finnsight table during Pikkujoulu. Landers and her husband, Tim Landers, owners of Brownstone Hall, have been working hard for months to remodel the building.

"We purchased it in July 2010," Susie Landers said. "We've been working 24-7 since then trying to get it up and running."

The beautiful wood floor, the stage and chandeliers are welcome additions for any event. The kitchen is still in the process of being remodeled.

The Hall is already being reserved for wedding receptions, Susie noted. After Jan. 1, 2011, she hopes to have a schedule of events.

More photos of Pikkujoulu:

Pikkujoulu is a family tradition. Riikka Hepokoski and her husband, Mark Hepokoski, who recently moved to Hancock from Tampere, Finland, brought their children, dressed in festive Finnish outfits, to share in the fun. Riika is pictured here with three of them -- from left, Johan, 9; Greta, 7; and Brita, 4. Baby Anna, 6 months, is not pictured but was all snuggled in her basket.

Dancers Debbie Stouffer and Chuck Kautto drove all the way from Herman for the event.

Here's hoping the PasiCats will make Pikkujoulu an annual Copper Country tradition!

*Editor's Note: Click here to visit the Finnsight Web site.

Student Environmental Coalition fights to "Save the Wild U.P."

MARQUETTE -- The President of Grand Valley State University’s Student Environmental Coalition (SEC), Katie Sexton, is hoping to help the Upper Peninsula's modest manpower in the process of gaining momentum, educating and informing Michigan’s students about the metallic sulfide mining process.

"People in the U.P. lack the numbers to create a strong political opposition to this mine, and this organization is a way of getting other Michiganders, environmentalists, and people concerned with the basic human right to fresh, clean water concerned about the threats that these mining projects pose," Sexton said....
Read the article about these concerned students by Anya Zentmeyer of the Grand Valley Lanthorn, posted Dec. 9, 2010, on Save the Wild UP.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Houghton County Dems honor Congressman Bart Stupak

By Michele Bourdieu

U.S. Congressman Bart Stupak speaks to Houghton County Democrats at a potluck luncheon the group held for him on Dec. 11, 2010, at the Super 8 Motel in Houghton to express appreciation for his 18 years representing Michigan's First District in the U.S. House of Representatives. Click on photos for larger versions. (Photos by Keweenaw Now)

HOUGHTON -- U.S. Congressman Bart Stupak told Houghton County Democrats his last few months before retirement have been busier than he had anticipated. He spoke at length about the tax bill now before Congress and expressed confidence it would be passed before the end of the year.

The Congressman also announced he would be leaving for Boston and Cambridge, Mass., soon to finalize a teaching fellowship at Harvard University to begin in January 2011. This commitment will soon be scheduled with half a dozen speaking engagements all across the State of Michigan early in 2011. Stupak was firm, however, about his decision not to run for public office -- at least not for the next four years.

Stupak, who announced his retirement last spring, has served 18 years as U.S. Representative for Michigan's First District, which includes the entire Upper Peninsula and part of Northern Michigan below the Mackinac Bridge.

He was the guest of honor at a potluck luncheon given by Houghton County Democrats on Dec. 11, following his appearance at the Michigan Tech Midyear graduation, where he was the guest speaker and received an honorary doctorate in Environmental and Energy Policy from the university.

"I can't imagine anybody who represents the Upper Peninsula and its values better than Bart Stupak, and I think people are really going to miss him," said Brian Hoduski, co-chair of the Houghton County Democratic Party.

Hoduski presented the Congressman with an engraved piece of local copper as a small gift of appreciation from the Houghton County Democratic Party (HCDP). Hoduski also announced the HCDP's annual service award will be named the Stupak Service Award.

Janet Gregorich, HCDP vice-chair, a longtime member of the group (since 1979), said she believes Stupak has been the best Congressman for the First District.

Congressman Bart Stupak reduces his height for a photo with petite Janet Gregorich, Houghton County Democratic Party vice-chair, during the Dec. 11 potluck luncheon HCDP members and friends held in honor of Stupak.

"He cared about the people of our district and knew the issues before he cast his votes," Gregorich said. "I will miss him, and I wish him well."

Gregorich presented Stupak's longtime Houghton Congressional Aide, Amy Wisti, with a holiday basket of goodies as a gift from the group.

Wisti praised the group for their ability to work and get things done.

"We've just got such a great party here. I think we've been able to accomplish an awful lot," Wisti said. "It really has been a wonderful 18 years and before -- and I will be here, still doing it."

Wisti was recently named HCDP Vice Chair for Candidate Recruitment.

Amy Wisti, Bart Stupak's Houghton Congressional aide, chats with Brian Rendel, left, HCDP co-chair, at the luncheon for Congressman Bart Stupak held Dec. 11 at the Super 8 Motel in Houghton. In the background are Scott Dianda of Calumet, former Democratic candidate for 110th District State Representative (the position now held by Mike Lahti), and John Laitinen, Franklin Township trustee.

Stupak noted Amy Wisti, her family and others in the Houghton County Democratic Party have been supporting him since he first ran in the primary for State Senate in 1990. Although he lost in that primary, two years later he was elected to Congress -- and stayed until this year. He praised HCDP for being the most organized Democratic Party in his district.

"Amy's right," he said. "Whenever something was asked of you, you always did it -- which made all of us successful. This election that we had here (2010) just defies logic."

People with "the most inexperience" have won -- across the nation, he noted. He gave examples of very experienced colleagues -- longtime incumbents -- who lost in this election.

"We (the Democrats) can't compete with corporate money," Stupak said in answer to a question on strategies for the 2012 election.

He said he'd like to see Congress pass legislation requiring corporate-sponsored campaign ads to indicate the name of the company paying for the ad.

"I think the Democratic Party as a whole must start recruiting -- actively, actively," Stupak said.

He noted the Democratic Party has done more in these last two years than any other modern Congress -- from Wall Street reform to children's health care, national health care and ending the war in Iraq.

"We've done it. No one gave us credit," the Congressman added.

Stupak expressed concern for the unemployed and said it's important to pass the tax bill in this session of Congress.

"We'll pass the tax bill and the part we're all struggling with -- those unemployed Americans who have not been able to find jobs in this slow, slow recovery where the corporations are filthy rich, they have the biggest bank accounts they've ever had in their history and they won't hire anybody because they want more," he said.

Questions from the group included concerns about the economy and Social Security.

John Slivon of Hancock asked, "If you approve this tax cut for the rich, how is it going to affect Social Security?"

Stupak said Social Security doesn't have a separate trust fund. (He noted some reforms in the health care bill could increase Social Security and Medicare.)

"All of us working, including myself, are paying for the retirees," he explained. "That's the way the system is designed."

Stupak estimated the amount of money coming in for Social Security will continue to be greater than the amount going out until about 2030.

"But on the massive ledger, where you had the war for Iraq, or (now) for Afghanistan, where we're spending $2 billion a month, that's draining us. We're not paying for that. We're borrowing the money."

Tax breaks vs. unemployment

Stupak pointed out that the tax break the Republicans want is over $900 billion -- greater than the stimulus ($787 billion) package Republicans opposed in the last election. His argument to Republicans complaining of tax increases is that it's really just going back to the Clinton economy.

"We had a pretty good economy under President Clinton, despite those so-called taxes," Stupak said.

He noted it's hard to "balance" the needs of unemployed people with the tax concerns of the rich.

"The best stimulus package is really giving unemployed people money, because they spend it all," he said. "Rich people don't spend it. They put it in their IRAs and everything else."

Stupak noted the Democrats' votes for the stimulus and Wall Street reform put the United States in a better position than some European countries that are struggling right now.

"Our economy, while slow, is stable," he said.

Stupak also praised Michigan's outgoing Democratic Governor Jennifer Granholm for tough cuts to balance the budget. Those cuts put Michigan in a better position than other states whose budgets are now in the red, he said.

Stupak to stay active in Party

Stupak said he and his wife, Laurie, have been precinct delegates for the Democratic Party for about 36 years -- ever since they got married. He said they will still be active in politics. He plans to continue serving as a precinct delegate, though he doesn't plan to run for office, at least not in the next four years.

Stupak jokes with Democrats about living during retirement on money his wife, Laurie, seated fourth from left, has saved.

Stupak announced he will be doing a fellowship at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard beginning in January. He'll be teaching a course on how this Congress really works. In addition to teaching a class he'll be guest lecturing in other classes and in community organizations in the Boston-Cambridge area.

The Congressman told Keweenaw Now he already has at least six speaking engagements around the state of Michigan lined up for the first three months of 2011.

He also has been invited to speak for the Front 40 group that is opposed to the mine near Menominee, where he lives. Stupak said he has great objections to that mine because it is a potential sulfide mine right in the wetlands between Michigan and Wisconsin, in the Menominee River watershed.*

The Congressman, who has expressed concerns about Kennecott's Eagle Mine in the past, still considers it as being in an environmentally sensitive area; but he said Michigan's new mining law means the federal government has little to say about it now, especially since Kennecott obtained their underground injection permit without the EPA (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency). As for Eagle Rock, the sacred Ojibwa site being used as the portal for the Eagle Mine, Stupak said he had spoken with members of the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community and other Native American groups about it but had no plans to talk to them now. He doesn't agree with the argument that treaty rights should offer protection for Eagle Rock.

Stupak said he thinks there will be more mining in the Upper Peninsula.

"As the oil goes up so does (the price of) precious metals," he noted. "Economically it's worthwhile going back to mine the precious metals and gold and other things we have in the Upper Peninsula."

Stupak said he's not necessarily in favor of mining. If he were to speak out against a mine now, it would be as a private citizen.

"I'd look at each mine on its merits," he said. "Hard-rock mining-- we've done that for so many years up here I don't have a lot of problems with that. Sulfide mining, which we've never done in Michigan -- I do have concerns."

He said he is not opposed to the potential Copperwood mine near Wakefield, since it is hard-rock mining, but not sulfide mining.

Asked if he had any plans to run for public office in the future, Stupak said he wouldn't say "never," but he really wants to step back for a while.

"I promised I'd give myself four years away from running for office," he said. "I want to be a private citizen for a while."

Democrats: "We'll miss him."

Several Democrats at the potluck event said they would miss Stupak, especially because of his dedication to the people of the First District.

Houghton County Democrats served this special cake at the luncheon for Bart Stupak on Dec. 11.

Catherine Lewis of Houghton, one of the youngest members of the group, said she joined the Democrats when Obama was running and then "just kind of stuck around." She plans to continue to be involved with the Democratic Party.

Lewis expressed disappointment at Stupak's retirement decision.

"I'm sad he's retiring. I'm going to miss him," she said. "I think he really took into consideration the people of his district. He really represented us."

Stupak also expressed encouragement and his wishes for success in the future to fellow Democrats despite their losses to Republicans in the recent election -- State Rep. Mike Lahti of Hancock, who ran for State Senate, and Scott Dianda of Calumet, who ran for the 110th District State Representative position Lahti now holds.

Lahti said he had no plans to run for public office again.

State Rep. Mike Lahti of Hancock and his wife, Sharon, attended the luncheon for Congressman Bart Stupak on Dec. 11.

"It's nice to be back home. It feels like I'm retired," Lahti said. "I'm still going to be involved with the Democrats and with the community."

Dianda had words of praise for Stupak.

"Mr. Bart Stupak has always been there for the people of his First Congressional District," Dianda said. "He's always put the needs of the people first, and he's always been so accessible. He's a true man of the people to be so accessible to the voters."

Dianda said he would continue to be involved with the Democratic Party. He was recently named HCDP Vice Chair for Political Organizing.

"I'll still be one of the watchdogs for the people," he said.

Brian Rendel, co-chair of the Houghton County Democratic Party, predicted people will miss Stupak even more in the future.

"Bart did a huge amount of work for District 1 in Michigan, and I think the District will appreciate all that work even more as we get to know our new Congressman. Bart will be a tough act to follow," Rendel noted.

Barbara Manninen of Hancock, who was recently named HCDP Membership Chair, said she always tried to watch Stupak on C-Span because, as Chair of the House Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations (under the House Committee on Energy and Commerce), he demonstrated a good grasp of many issues -- from food safety to Toyota's sudden acceleration problem to the BP oil spill to Great Lakes protection.

"It was amazing -- the knowledge that man has, in addition to legislative skill," Manninen noted. "He was a real worker for protecting the Great Lakes. We all treasure our Great Lakes -- our habitat, our tourism, clean water -- all depend on the Great Lakes."

Thomas Baldini of Marquette, Congressman Stupak's district director for the past eight years and former chair of the International Joint Commission (IJC) for the Great Lakes (a board of experts appointed by the United States and Canada to protect the Great Lakes boundary waters) was also present at the event.

Thomas Baldini, left, of Marquette, Congressman Stupak's district director for the past eight years and former chair of the International Joint Commission (IJC) for the Great Lakes, talks with Scott Dianda of Calumet, former candidate for Michigan 110th District State Representative and now HCDP vice chair for political organizing.

"He and I go back a long, long way," Baldini said. "We were friends even before he was running for office."

Baldini noted he was chair of the IJC at about the time Stupak was first elected to Congress during Clinton's administration. He said Stupak, as a boss, was very supportive and easy to work with. At the time Stupak announced his retirement from Congress, Baldini praised Stupak's work and dedication to protecting the Great Lakes from water sales, oil drilling in and under the lakes, and contamination.**

Congressman Bart Stupak says good-bye to supporters and friends after the Houghton County Democratic Party's potluck luncheon of appreciation held for him on Dec. 11. In the foreground are, from left, Scott Dianda and Mike Lahti.

Ann Pace of Hancock, an active member of the Houghton County Democrats, offered this comment: "I didn't always agree with him, but I was always proud that he was my Congressman, and I value his tenacious fidelity to what he believes is right."

Editor's Notes:

* The Front 40 is a grass-roots environmental group specifically opposed to mining company Aquila Resources' proposed Back 40 mining operation along the Menominee River in Menominee County, Michigan.

** See our April 9, 2010, article, "Stupak announces decision not to continue in Congress," with Thomas Baldini's comments on Stupak as "Guardian of the Great Lakes."

Portage Library begins Isle Royale Series, Young Adult Book Group

In November 2010 at the Portage Lake District Library, Dr. John Vucetich, Michigan Tech University professor of wildlife ecology, participated in an environmental ethics discussion led by Michael Nelson, resident philosopher of the Isle Royale wolf/moose project. Here Vucetich reads from his contribution to Nelson's book of essays, MORAL GROUND: Ethical Action for a Planet in Peril. (Photo by Keweenaw Now)

HOUGHTON -- Dr. John Vucetich will present "Of Moose and Wolves" from 6:30 p.m. - 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 14, at the Portage Lake District Library. Dr. Vucetich will show slides taken on Isle Royale, which is home to the world’s longest-running study of a predator and its prey, and share the knowledge and understanding gained from years of studying the relationship between moose and wolves. Participants will also be able to see and touch bones and other items found on the island.

Dr. Vucetich is an Assistant Professor of wildlife ecology at Michigan Tech University. His interests include population biology, environmental ethics and the ecology of wolves and moose. He has worked on Isle Royale for nearly 20 years and, along with Dr. Rolf Peterson, has been co-leading the Isle Royale wolf-moose project since 2000.

This will be the first of a series of presentations on Isle Royale. Library presentations are free and everyone is welcome. For more information, please call the library at 482-4570 or visit

Portage Library announces Young Adult Book Group

The Portage Lake District Library invites students to join its Young Adult Book Group for teens.

The first meeting is from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 13. Participants will meet at the library on the second Monday of each month and possibly more often if there is interest. Students will choose what they will read, and the selection will include books, poems, magazines and newspapers.

This program is free, no registration is required and it is open to all area high school students. For more information, please call the library at 482-4570.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Angel Tree offers opportunity to help a teenager in need

The Angel Tree in the window of the Angel Mission Free Store in Calumet offers an opportunity to help a teenager in need. (Photos © 2010 Joanne Thomas for Keweenaw Now)

CALUMET -- The colorful Christmas tree in the window of the Angel Mission Free Store in Calumet is not just a decoration. Each angel represents a local teenager in need of a Christmas gift.

Stop in the Free Store, located at 201 Fifth Street in Calumet, choose a local teenager from the angel tree and buy that teen a Christmas gift. The angel provides the age of the boy or girl to help you shop for the gift.

The Angel Mission Free Store is here at 201 Fifth Street, Calumet.

The Angel Mission Free Store is open Wednesdays 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., Thursdays 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., Fridays 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Saturdays 10 a.m. to noon.

All children on the Angel tree are local area teens in need. the Angel Mission Free Store is a project of the Copper Country Christian Fellowship, a Presbyterian-based, ecumenical storefront church at 301 Sixth Street, Calumet.

For more information please call Ann Normand, director, at 906-337-2659.

Sheriff Ron Lahti's "No Kid Without a Christmas" drive continues

Gifts donated for Keweenaw County Sheriff Ron Lahti's "No Kid Without a Christmas" drive pile up at Slim's Café in Mohawk. The program helps from 80 to 100 children in Keweenaw County. (Photo © 2010 Joanne Thomas for Keweenaw Now)

MOHAWK -- Keweenaw County Sheriff Ron Lahti's "No Kid Without a Christmas" program continues for another week with drop-off sites at Slim's Café in Mohawk, the Keweenaw County Sheriff's department in Eagle River, the Eagle Harbor Inn, the Bear Belly Bar and Grill in Lac La Belle and Superior National Bank in Mohawk.

Gifts can be for any age child. Parents prefer that the gifts be unwrapped. Cash donations are also accepted.

Read more about how you can help in Stacey Kukkonen's Daily Mining Gazette article.

Friday, December 10, 2010

PasiCats to host Pikkujoulu (Finnish Little Christmas) Dec. 12

Poster for Pikkujoulu (Finnish Little Christmas) to be held Sunday, Dec. 12, in Atlantic Mine. Click on image for larger version. (Poster courtesy PasiCats)

HANCOCK -- PasiCats will host the first ever Pikkujoulu (Finnish Little Christmas) from 2:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 12, at Brownstone Hall (old St. Mary's Hall) in Atlantic Mine.

Festivities will begin at 2:30 p.m. with a Christmas carol sing-along (both Finnish and English tunes). From 3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. PasiCats will play music for a Holiday dance. Cover charge is $5. Children under 12 free admission.

The event is also a perfect time to enjoy Finnish coffee, glögi and bakeries provided by Finnsight and to fill up Santa's sack with Finnsight products, such as Finnish Christmas Cards, recipe magnets, shopping bags, etc. You can also get your own copy of the "Where's Valki?" CD.

Brownstone Hall is on Huron Street in Atlantic Mine (across from Top Dog Kennels).

Check out the Finnsight Web site for more information about their Finnish products.

Calumet holiday events continue Dec. 10-11

CALUMET -- Holiday activities this weekend include Santa's visits, musical programs, horse-drawn wagon rides and more.

A favorite holiday treat in Calumet is a horse-drawn wagon ride. Here a wagon turns onto historic Fifth Street in front of the Keweenaw Heritage Center at St. Anne's on Dec. 4. The wagon rides are free and continue this Saturday, Dec. 11, between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. (Photo © 2010 Joanne Thomas for Keweenaw Now)

Friday, Dec. 10:

6 p.m. -- Club Indigo dinner and film, the British fantasy/comedy Millions. The movie begins at 7:15 p.m., preceded at 6 p.m. by a gourmet British buffet (from Kangas Café, Hancock). Cost for buffet and movie, $18. Movie alone, $5. For seats at the buffet, call 337-2610. The film is sponsored by Nagamoon, a gift shop on 5th St, Calumet.

7 p.m. -- A Christmas Concert at the Calumet Art Center will feature vocalists Monica Rovano and Courtney Clisch, guitarist Cathy Isaacson, violinist Libby Meyer, and organist Kathleen Alatalo-Arten. The concert is a fundraiser to benefit the Art Center. A $5 donation is requested. The Calumet Art Center is located at 57055 Fifth Street, behind the Keweenaw Heritage Center in the white building with the spire.

Saturday, Dec. 11:

11 a.m. - 1 p.m. -- Visits with Santa and free goodie bags, Rowe Furniture

1 p.m. - 3 p.m. -- Watch for Santa and his "goodie bag," downtown locations

11 a.m. - 3 p.m. -- Free horse-drawn wagon rides; holiday music by strolling musicians, various downtown locations; carolers tour the downtown

7 p.m. -- Calumet High School senior play, A Charlie Brown Christmas and Frosty, Calumet Theatre.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Nordic Film Series to present "A Christmas Story" Dec. 9

HANCOCK -- As part of the Nordic Film Series, the Finlandia University Finnish American Heritage Center will show the Finnish film Joulutarina (A Christmas Story) at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 9.

A Christmas Story is a holiday film for the entire family. Set against a breathtaking landscape, this magical film reveals the untold childhood of Santa Claus. Dubbed in English, the film is about 90 minutes long.

There is no charge to attend the film, but donations are accepted. The Finnish American Heritage Center is at 435 Quincy St., Hancock. For information, call 487-7549.

UPDATED: Chassell to celebrate Old Fashioned Christmas Dec. 11

CHASSELL -- An Old Fashioned Christmas in Chassell will offer activities for the whole family on Saturday, Dec. 11, with activities at the Chassell Heritage Center, the Chassell School, the VFW, and the Einerlei gift shop.

Celebrate at the Chassell Heritage Center

Parents and grandparents help kids decorate Christmas cookies during the 2009 Old Fashioned Christmas at the Chassell Heritage Center. (File photo by Keweenaw Now)

The Chassell Heritage Center will host an Open House from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Santa and Mrs. Claus will visit from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., and kids can decorate their own cookies to take home.

Musician Dave Bezotte and friends Kora Johnson (fiddle), Bertha and Jack Rossberg (organ and violin), and Kay Seppala (flute) will play music at the Heritage Center between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.

During Chassell's 2009 Old Fashioned Christmas, Santa joined musician Dave Bezotte (center at piano), the Maple Sugar Folk and Oren Tikkanen and friends in a musical program at the Chassell Heritage Center. This year Dave (and maybe Santa) will again join visiting musicians at the Heritage Center on Saturday, Dec. 11. (File photo by Keweenaw Now)

Update: Also at the Heritage Center Friends of Fashion are featuring their exhibit: 100 Years of Wedding Apparel.

At 7 p.m. the Heritage Center will host a showing of the documentary Réveil -- Waking Up French, a powerful film that explores the struggle for cultural survival among the French-Canadian, Franco-American communities of New England. This documentary is relevant to everyone. As the melting pot attitude and globalization threatens diversity and the heritage of so many cultures, Réveil explores the struggle for cultural survival in the very heart of American monoculture. It reveals the importance of history and heritage understanding and demonstrates how languages can be reacquired for personal and community renewal that is truly inspiring. Free Admission. Sharing and discussion will follow with Evan Dixon, moderator. More information about the film is at

The Chassell Heritage Center is at 2nd and Hancock Streets in Chassell. For more information contact Dave Bezotte at or (906)482-4956.

Update: Chassell School Events

At the Chassell School events begin with Breakfast with the Chassell High School Junior Class, from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. For information contact the Chassell School at 523-4491.

A Holiday Handcrafts Bazaar will be held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Chassell School. It will include a sale of locally made crafts as well as handicrafts and colorful calendars from Guatemala, presented by members of the Copper Country Guatemala Accompaniment Project, a human rights group. For information contact: Marvyl Wilson, 523-4115.

Parents and Teachers Together (PATT) will offer a cookie sale from 10 a.m. to noon at the Chassell School.

Enjoy a Chili Lunch and More! with the Chassell High School Senior Class from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Chassell School.

Update: Storytelling, cookies and hot chocolate around the tree from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the VFW Home.

At the Einerlei

The Einerlei gift shop will host a book signing with Lon Emerick from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday for his new book, Paradise North -- Seasons in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

Update: The Home for the Holidays House Tour and Gourmet Tasting will take place from noon until 5 p.m. Tickets ($10) are available the Einerlei in Chassell, Chassell Heritage Center, and the Keweenaw Convention and Visitors Bureau in Calumet. For information contact Nancy Leonard, 523-4612.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Houghton Dems to hold potluck luncheon Dec. 11 for U.S. Rep. Stupak

HOUGHTON -- the Houghton County Democratic Committee is hosting a potluck luncheon at 1 p.m. this Saturday, Dec. 11, in honor of Congressman Bart Stupak, who will be in town to deliver the commencement address to Michigan Tech graduates Saturday morning.

The potluck will be held at the Super 8 Motel in Houghton.

Beverages and dessert will be provided. If you would like to attend, please bring a dish to share and join in expressing appreciation to Congressman Stupak for his 18 years of dedication to our district and to the Democratic Party.

No RSVP is needed.

The next regular monthly business meeting of the Houghton County Democratic Party will be at 7 p.m. on the first Wednesday of the new year, Jan. 5, 2011, at the Super 8 in Houghton. Visitors are welcome.

U. S. Rep. Bart Stupak to speak at Michigan Tech commencement

By Marcia Goodrich, Michigan Tech senior writer
(Posted on Tech Today, Dec. 8, 2010)

HOUGHTON -- Congressman Bart Stupak will address nearly 300 graduates at Michigan Tech University Midyear Commencement ceremonies Saturday, Dec. 11.

A total of 242 students will be receiving bachelor's degrees. In addition, 26 master's degrees and 18 doctorates will be awarded.

Stupak will receive an Honorary Doctorate in Environmental and Energy Policy. He is retiring in January after 18 years of service to Michigan's 1st Congressional District.

He is a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and, as the ranking Democrat, chair of the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee.

Before his election in 1992, Stupak was a Michigan state representative and worked as an Escanaba police officer and Michigan State Police trooper. He also practiced law.

A graduate of Gladstone High School, he earned an associate degree from Northwestern Michigan College, a bachelor's degree in criminal justice from Northern Michigan University and a law degree from Thomas M. Cooley Law School in Lansing.

Health care has been a priority for Stupak since he was elected to Congress, when he pledged not to accept the insurance that members of Congress receive until all
Americans could have access to that same quality health care.

He has been a leader in the international effort to ban the sale and diversion of the Great Lakes and opposed the drilling for oil and gas beneath the Great Lakes.

Stupak founded and co-chaired the Congressional Law Enforcement Caucus, a bipartisan organization that provides the law enforcement community with an avenue to participate in the legislative process.

He has been a leader in homeland security, particularly in connection with programs to train and equip local law enforcement officers and other first responders. In addition, Stupak co-chairs the Congressional Northern Border Caucus.

Khana Khazana to offer Indian, Thai cuisine Dec. 10

HOUGHTON -- Khana Khazana (Food Treasure) will feature Indian and Thai Cuisine from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 10, in the Memorial Union Food Court at Michigan Tech.

The menu will include Mutter Paneer (curry of green peas and Indian cheese served with Naan bread), by Indian chef Sahil Thakkar; Kesariya Doodh (a delicious beverage made with milk, saffron and nuts), by Sahil Thakkar; and Pad Thai (an authentic Thai dish made with stir-fried noodles, bean sprouts and shrimps), by Thai chef Parawe Pumwongpitak).

A full meal is $6; à la carte prices are Pad Thai $3, Mutter Paneer $3, Kesariya Doodh $2.

This is the last Khana Khazana lunch of the Fall Semester. Khana Khazana Friday lunches will resume during Spring Semester, beginning in January. The first anniversary of the Khana Khazana program, a collaboration of Michigan Tech International Students and Michigan Tech Dining Services, will be Jan. 28, 2011.

Chef Sahil Thakkar, Khana Khazana coordinator, said he is looking for ideas on how to celebrate the anniversary.

Editor's Note: Read more about Khana Khazana and see photos of last week's lunch.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Mining expert Jack Parker says Eagle Mine likely to collapse

By Michele Bourdieu

TOIVOLA, Mich. -- Addressing the structural stability of Rio Tinto-Kennecott's Eagle Mine is a matter of life and death.

"Of course it is," says mining expert Jack Parker, semi-retired mining engineer/geologist, well respected for his practical experience in more than 500 mines around the world. Parker -- who has degrees in mining engineering, geological engineering and geology from Michigan Technological University -- specializes in practical rock mechanics, which he defines as "an understanding of the properties and behavior of rocks and rock structures -– and what to do about it."

Jack Parker of Toivola, semi-retired mining engineer / geologist, specializes in practical rock mechanics. He recently published two reports on the instability of Rio Tinto-Kennecott's Eagle Mine. (Photo courtesy Jack Parker)

Parker has written numerous technical papers on this practical approach and, since 1971, has independently given advice to miners and engineers to help them resolve problems in mine design and operation.

Most recently, Parker published two reports on the Eagle Mine, pointing out reasons why it is likely to collapse if mined as planned in Kennecott's mining permit application, which was approved by the former Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ), now part of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment (MDNRE). The permit has been challenged in a contested case, in which the MDEQ's Administrative Law Judge Richard Patterson ruled in favor of both Kennecott Eagle Minerals Co. (KEMC) and the company's apparent partner in the case, the MDEQ.*

Catherine Parker of Marquette, daughter of Jack Parker, reads an excerpt from Jack Parker's August 2010 report on the Eagle Mine at the Sept. 28, 2010, Marquette County Commissioners Sept. 28, 2010, Meeting of the Committee of the Whole Meeting. Catherine Parker gave commissioners copies of the report. (Photo by Keweenaw Now)

This case is now being appealed by the groups challenging the permit: National Wildlife Federation, Huron Mountain Club, Keweenaw Bay Indian Community and Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve. Parker was one of several experts testifying in the contested case held in the spring of 2008. He testified that the Eagle mine, as designed in Kennecott’s permit application, was likely to collapse. Later he published the reports to call attention again to the stability issue.

Jack Parker’s April 2009 report on the Eagle Project

In his first report -- dated April 2009 and titled "KEMC Eagle Project: A Fraudulent Mining Permit Application?" -- Parker said he had studied Kennecott's permit application for three years and concluded that the mine and its crown pillar (the rock above the mine) would not be stable. He called the application "misleading, deceitful and potentially dangerous." The report questions Kennecott's use of computer modeling as an approach to mine design. Parker also illustrates the report with photos of drill cores, showing weakness in the rock and pointing out missing numbers in Rock Mass Ratings that betray an effort to hide the poor core, thus misrepresenting the strength of the crown pillar. Samples of drawings also show how Kennecott concealed weak areas of rock in their use of color in the designs -- which would have deceived and misled the hired mine planners.

Parker says in this first report that he agrees with David Sainsbury, a rock mechanics expert hired by the MDEQ, who, in his 2006 Technical Review of the geotechnical portion of the application drafted by Kennecott's mine design consultants, Golder and Associates, was highly critical of the design.

Parker quotes Sainsbury as saying, "'The analysis techniques used to assess the Eagle crown pillar stability do not reflect industry best practice. In addition, the hydrologic stability of the crown pillar has not been considered. Therefore the conclusions made within the Eagle Project Mining Permit Application regarding crown pillar subsidence are not considered to be defensible.'"

"That was Sainsbury’s polite way of saying they were not supported by fact," Parker says.

As Parker points out, Sainsbury was asked more than once to rewrite his report and omit certain details, but still came to the same conclusion about the instability of the crown pillar.

"They hid those reports but hired a second expert, Wilson Blake, Ph D, also respected in the industry," Parker writes. "In a hasty response he gave KEMC/MDEQ some support but added that although he used to use their methods (numerical modeling), he gave up on them years ago, preferring instead to go look at the problem situations."

Although Blake testified for the MDEQ in the contested case, the Petitioners' Brief in support of their appeal of the contested case decision refers to Blake's respect for Parker's expertise: "According to the MDEQ's own expert, Parker's study of the geologic stresses in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, and the significance of those stresses for mine construction, remains the seminal work on the subject. MDEQ's expert voluntarily identified Mr. Parker as an 'icon' in his field. Parker testified unequivocally that the risk of collapse at the proposed Eagle Mine is 'likely.'"

Parker's practical approach is evident in the examples he gives of questionable sampling (choosing only the best rock samples to represent a rock mass and basing calculations, analyses and designs on these samples) and questionable testing (for example, using dry samples in a lab to test rock strength, thus assuring more optimistic results since wet rocks lose much of their strength).

During an interview with Keweenaw Now, mining expert Jack Parker explains photos of rock core samples in his April 2009 report on the Eagle Mine. (Photo by Keweenaw Now)

Noting that the MDEQ told their expert Sainsbury to leave case histories out of his reports, Parker says a geologist or person planning a mine should always look at similar mines in similar conditions in order to anticipate problems. Their second expert, Blake, said the same thing. Parker describes the 1987 collapse of the Ropes Mine near Ishpeming and the 1932 collapse of the Athens Mine south of Negaunee. In the latter case, the crown pillar was 1800 feet thick and described as "jaspilite," an extremely strong rock.

"Remember that KEMC/Golder first said that a crown pillar about 100 ft. thick would be stable," Parker writes. "After questioning they doubled it to 200 ft, and eventually, tripled it, to 300 ft. No confidence in their calculations and predictions? Strange that their hi-tech calculations would add an even 100 ft each time they were challenged. At the Athens mine the crown pillar, 1800-1900 feet thick, was 'Not relevant!' they say."

Parker adds, "It was 1800-1900 feet thick, but it did fail."

Parker concludes his 2009 report with an explanation of the importance of horizontal stress on the crown pillar.


Jack Parker's second report, August 2010

In August 2010, Parker published a second report on the Kennecott Eagle Project. This one, only 16 pages long, is titled "THE KENNECOTT EAGLE MINE PLANNED FOR UPPER MICHIGAN IS PREDICTED TO BE UNSTABLE." Parker said he wrote this second report because it seemed no one had paid attention to the first one, perhaps because he had presented so many details on the errors in Kennecott's application.

"The reports begin to resemble encyclopedias, full of facts, perhaps, but nobody reads encyclopedias from beginning to end," Parker writes in his Introduction to the August 2010 report. "This time I confine my observations to the most significant errors -- those concerning health and safety, primarily the stability of the mine and the crown pillar in particular."

The crown pillar, says Parker, is all the rock between the top of the mine and the top of the bedrock.

In their permit application, Parker explains, "Kennecott includes everything above the top of the mine, including the weathered and fractured rock."

Parker considers that a grave error.

Parker's second report includes a page of color photos of 50 ft. of core samples (all dry) from the crown pillar of the Eagle Mine. His comment on these is as follows:

"Stability depends more on rock structure than on laboratory measurements of strength of small, select, intact samples."

This is one of the core samples Parker includes in his August 2010 report. "Would you care to work under this roofrock?" Parker asks. (Photo courtesy Jack Parker)

In just a few pages, Parker shows how Kennecott and their consultants, Golder Associates, used a computer modeling approach and arrived at designs based on numbers that are arbitrary -- or even missing, as in the example of the missing Rock Mass Ratings (RMRs) for 87 feet of the weaker rock types in the crown pillar -- which hid the potential instability of the rock.

"The rocks don't lie but the numbers do," Parker writes.

He also points out, as he did in his first report, that RMRs from dry samples have to be adjusted (lowered) since the actual rocks are wet.


Two other nationally recognized experts on mining engineering and geological issues -- Dr. Marcia Bjornerud of Lawrence University, Appleton, Wis., and Dr. Stanley Vitton of Michigan Technological University -- testified for the Petitioners in the contested case. The Petitioners note that, along with Parker, Bjornerud and Vitton provided days of detailed testimony, corroborating, explaining and supporting the criticisms of the application made by Drs. Sainsbury and Blake, as well as the prediction of likely mine collapse.

According to the Petitioners' Brief, "Bjornerud studied extensive photographs of the core samples which showed the quality of rock in and around the intended crown pillar and, using generally accepted formulas, determined that the rock was of very low quality (rubble) and that the crown pillar itself could fail through crumbling or longer-term deterioration."

(The Petitioners' Brief also explains that Kennecott refused to produce the actual core samples so these Petitioners' experts had to conduct their analysis from photographs obtained through FOIA requests. The Administrative Law Judge in the contested case refused to order the actual samples and then, ironically, dismissed these experts' testimony based on the photographs because they didn't have access to the core samples!)

In their Brief, Petitioners question Administrative Law Judge Patterson's reliance on "experimental backfill procedures" to prevent crown pillar failure: "Even before blasting occurs in the secondary stopes, right up against the backfill in the primary stopes, the strength of that backfill is only a tiny fraction of that of the ore it is replacing (20,000 psi vs. 218 psi).

They note that Vitton's calculations show the blasting against the backfill combined with acidic action would lead to a prediction of 12 or more feet of settling beneath the Salmon Trout River. Respondents in the case did not contradict this conclusion.

Vitton recently told Keweenaw Now that, while the 12 foot of settlement would be in the backfill material, not necessarily the total settlement of the crown pillar, it would be close to that if the crown pillar failed.

View of the Salmon Trout River. Kennecott's ore body is under this trout stream. The river is at great risk if the mine underneath it should collapse. (Photo by Keweenaw Now)

The Petitioners' Brief refers to the testimonies of Parker and, Bjornerud and Vitton as "Unrebutted."

On the other hand, the Administrative Law Judge's Proposal for Decision (PFD), for reasons unknown, concludes that the mine will not collapse.

According to the Petitioners' Brief, "The way the PFD reaches a 'conclusion' that this mine will not collapse, against all of the testimony and calculations of the five geologic and mine engineering experts which indicate that it will likely collapse, was by either omitting (with respect to Sainsbury and Blake) or dismissing out of hand (with respect to Parker, Bjornerud and Vitton) all of the testimony indicating the likely catastrophic collapse of this mine."

Faced with all the expert criticism warning of the instability of the crown pillar, Kennecott proposed that the whole application "would be subject to future revisions during the course of excavation and mining, this time without any public review whatsoever," the Petitioners add.

Parker's main point in both of his reports is that safety was intentionally compromised by omission and guesswork, resulting in violation of Part 632, Michigan's Nonferrous Metallic Mining Regulations.

Parker includes in his August 2010 Report an excerpt from Section 324.63223 of Part 632, concerning violations and penalties. These include making a false statement in a permit application under Part 632 (a felony, punishable by a maximum of two years in prison and fines of $2500 to $25,000 per day for each violation or, in the case of a second conviction for this same violation, fines of $25,000 to $50,000 per day). If the court finds evidence of substantially endangering the public health, safety or welfare, that is punishable by five years in prison and fines of at least $ 1 million). ****

Recently, Parker told Keweenaw Now he sees compromise as the only solution to the dilemma of Kennecott breaking the Part 632 law but being allowed to proceed by the DNRE.

"Four and a half years of study still uphold the early findings that Kennecott doctored the technical data in their application to assure issue of permits," Parker says. "And they still maintain that they 'have a good plan and will stick with it' despite the fact that when corrected data are inserted into their design approach the results show that the mine will be unstable -- thus endangering life, limb, property and environment."

Parker notes Kennecott continues to work on mine construction, ignoring the requirements of the law and reinterpreting the law when necessary.

"MDEQ (now MDNRE) allows them to do so," he says.

Construction at the Kennecott mine site (shown in this Nov. 9, 2010, aerial photo) is ongoing, despite litigation still claiming the company is ignoring Part 632, Michigan's Nonferrous Metallic Mining Regulations. Click on photo for larger version. (Photo © 2010 and courtesy Jeremiah Eagle Eye)

Despite this, as Parker sees it, the dilemma is that the ore bodies are very valuable, the State needs money and many local people need jobs.

"A fair number of them are already enjoying their work at the mine site and their paychecks and they ought not to be punished," Parker adds. "Put yourself in their

Parker says he believes all of the existing plans could be improved upon immensely -- the access, the mining, the duration of mining, the ore processing, the transportation, the marketing and the sharing of proceeds.

"I would expect Kennecott to make such changes piecemeal, by subterfuge, by rewriting the law," he notes.

Editor’s Notes:
* "The consolidated contested case hearing began on April 28, 2008. There were 40 days of testimony, concluding on July 16, 2008, followed by a site visit. During the hearing, 59 persons testified, many of them expert witnesses. In addition, the de bene esse deposition of Dr. Sainsbury was admitted, as were numerous detailed technical exhibits. All parties' closing arguments and proposed findings of fact were filed by October 15, 2008." (Appellants’ / Petitioners' Brief, pp. 15-16) Click here for the Appellants’ Brief.

** Click here to read Jack Parker’s April 2009 report on the Eagle Project.

*** Click here to read Jack Parker’s August 2010 report, predicting the Eagle Mine to be unstable.

**** See Michigan's Nonferrous Metallic Mining Regulations: Part 632 of the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act, Act No. 451 of the Public Acts of 1994.
Parker’s excerpt is taken from p. 14.