See our right-hand column for announcements and news briefs. Scroll down the right-hand column to access the Archives -- links to articles posted in the main column since 2007.

Friday, June 02, 2017

"Sustainable and Efficient Business Strategies" event to be June 5 at Great Lakes Research Center

How can energy efficiency and energy conservation add to your business's bottom line? Find out Monday, June 5, at the Great Lakes Research Center. The free event, "Sustainable and Efficient Business Strategies," is sponsored by the Keweenaw Young Professionals, the Keweenaw Chamber of Commerce, the Keweenaw Climate Community (KCC), and Michigan Interfaith Power and Light. (Photo courtesy Keweenaw Young Professionals)

HOUGHTON -- "Sustainable and Efficient Business Strategies" will be the subject of an event to be held from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Monday, June 5, in Room 202 of Michigan Tech's Great Lakes Research Center, 100 Phoenix Drive in Houghton. This a non-partisan, non-political event that is focused on educating the local business community about programs that are available for energy efficiency and energy conservation. It is free and open to the public.

The event is sponsored by the Keweenaw Young Professionals, the Keweenaw Chamber of Commerce, the Keweenaw Climate Community (KCC), and Michigan Interfaith Power and Light.

Light fare will be served. Everyone is welcome to attend.

Stephen Handler, a member of both KCC and Keweenaw Young Professionals, said the groups especially hope members of the local business community will attend.

"This event is designed to help local businesses understand how energy efficiency and energy conservation can help add to their bottom line," Handler said. 

Presentations will help attendees learn WHY energy efficiency is a smart investment for their business, WHAT steps to take to cut energy waste, and HOW to get positive recognition for their business's efforts. Presenters will share information about existing programs that are available to our local community.

Click here for more details and FREE registration.

Thursday, June 01, 2017

Guest article: A Highland Map of Lake Superior Mining

By Louis V. Galdieri
Posted May 31 on his blog, lvgaldieri*
Reprinted with permission

UPX Minerals Map courtesy Highland Copper and Louis Galdieri. (Click on map for larger version)

It would be instructive to lay this map, published today (May 31, 2017) by Highland Copper, over the map of Mines, Mineral Exploration, and Mineral Leasing around Lake Superior published in 2013 by the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission.

Having acquired all of Rio Tinto’s exploration properties in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, Highland now dominates sulfide-mining exploration in the UP.

A multi-billion dollar mining behemoth like Rio Tinto could arguably have left these copper, zinc and gold sites idle for a rainy day. The same can’t be said about a junior like Highland. With market capitalization of $62 million, the company paid $2 million at closing, leaving its subsidiary on the hook for an additional $16 million (in the form of a non-interest bearing promissory note), to be paid in regular installments.

According to company’s own press release, "the payments…will be accelerated if Highland publicly releases a feasibility study covering any portion of the UPX properties." So once exploration begins with test drilling in 2018, we might see efforts to expedite permitting and development for these sites.

If UPX succeeds in taking even a fraction of these sulfide-mineral deposits from exploration to development, and if these new mines are developed under the pressure of an accelerated payment schedule, the risk to the Lake Superior watershed will be significantly heightened.

* Guest author Louis V. Galdieri is a writer and filmmaker based in New York City. He and fellow filmmaker Ken Ross visited Houghton, Mich., in October 2013 and screened their documentary 1913 Massacre, about the Italian Hall tragedy. Click here for his blog.

Editor's Note: See our May 12, 2017, article, "DEQ cites Highland Copper's wetlands, soil erosion violations from mining exploration in Porkies, along CR 519."

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

MDEQ to hold public meeting on Eagle East Mining Permit Application Amendment June 8; public comments accepted until July 6

MARQUETTE/LANSING -- The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ), Oil, Gas, and Minerals Division (OGMD), will hold a public meeting from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Thursday, June 8, 2017, at the Westwood High School auditorium, 300 Westwood Drive, Ishpeming, Michigan 49849, on the Eagle Mine LLC (Eagle), Eagle East Mining Permit Application Amendment. The MDEQ will also accept written public comment on the request for amendment following the public meeting until 5 p.m. July 6, 2017.

The MDEQ received an application on March 22, 2017, from Eagle requesting approval to amend their Mining Permit MP 01 2007, issued under Part 632, Nonferrous Metallic Mineral Mining, of the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act, 1994 PA 451, as amended, to mine the Eagle East mineral resource. The MDEQ, OGMD, determined that the request for amendment constitutes a significant change from the conditions of the approved mine permit, and on May 5, 2017, the permittee was notified that the application was determined to be administratively complete.

According to Melanie Humphrey, geological technician in the MDEQ Marquette Office of Oil, Gas and Minerals, Upper Peninsula District, the amendment application will be reviewed in the same manner as a new permit.

"The public meeting next week is regarding a request to amend an existing permit, not another separate permit,"  Humphrey said. "Regardless, we are going through the review process as we would a new permit application, which includes a public information meeting. We will consider all comments and information in our review before making a proposed decision on the request. Before making a final decision, the MDEQ will hold a public hearing on the proposed decision. The date of the hearing will depend on when we are finished with our review."

The purpose of the June 8 meeting is to inform the public that the MDEQ has received the application for amendment request, to provide information regarding the proposed amendment and departmental review process, and to allow interested parties the opportunity to comment and/or ask questions on the proposal. To accommodate all parties that wish to provide oral comment, presentations will initially be limited to five minutes. This limit may be reduced or extended upon the discretion of the meeting facilitator. Written comments will also be received at the meeting.

Interested persons may submit written comments by mail or e-mail until 5 p.m. July 6, 2017. Mail your comments to DEQ Eagle East Permit Amendment, Office of Oil, Gas, and Minerals, 1504 West Washington Street, Marquette, MI 49855. E-mail your comments regarding the application for amendment request to the designated MDEQ mailbox at, including "Eagle East Permit Amendment" as the subject. All verbal and written comments presented during the meeting and comment period will be considered prior to making a proposed decision on the request for amendment.

Click here to access the Lundin Mining Corp. Request for Amendment and other documents. Click under "Applications on File" for more information.

Monday, May 29, 2017

HEET: Houghton County residents cutting energy use, saving money on utility bills

Houghton Energy Efficiency Team (HEET) Manager Melissa Davis displays information about HEET's work during the April 26, 2016, Lake Superior Celebration at Michigan Tech's Great Lakes Research Center. (Keweenaw Now file photo)

HANCOCK -- Houghton County has seen a significant overall drop its home energy consumption since entering the Georgetown University Energy Prize competition, the Houghton Energy Efficiency Team (HEET) has reported.

Approximately 50 communities are in the running for the $5 million prize, which challenges communities to rethink their energy use and implement creative strategies to increase efficiency. HEET is an ad hoc group of volunteers formed to help Houghton County compete for the prize.

During the first two years of the competition, from January 2015 through December 2016, average power use dropped 13.0 percent for residential electrical customers compared to the previous two-year period. On average, Semco Energy residential customers cut their natural gas consumption by 15.9 percent over the same time frame.

The Georgetown University Energy Prize statistics are calculated by totaling the energy use of Semco, UPPCO and Ontonagon County REA customers and dividing that by the number of residential and municipal utility bills. This method helps to account for changes in energy use that are unrelated to energy conservation practices, such as a growth or decline in population.

Ten finalists for the Georgetown prize are expected to be announced soon; but whether or not Houghton County is selected it is still a winner, said HEET manager Melissa Davis.

"I am super satisfied," Davis said. "Houghton County residents have saved some money, and many are a little warmer come winter."

The electrical and natural gas usage figures are encouraging, but they are preliminary, Davis noted. They will be weighted to reflect any weather-related variation in energy use during the time frame of the contest.

Many of HEET’s activities were made possible by Efficiency UNITED, which offers a variety of energy-saving programs to Upper Peninsula Power Company (UPPCO) and Semco customers. Early in the competition, HEET launched a county-wide effort to encourage those customers to take advantage of Efficiency UNITED services.

"We’ve connected people with rebates that take the edge off of energy-efficient homeowner upgrades, and we’ve encouraged people to switch incandescent light bulbs for LEDs," Davis explained. "Probably the most popular Efficiency UNITED program has been the refrigerator replacement program for income-qualified residents. A close second was the program to replace electric water heaters with heat-pump water heaters, which bring the operating costs down substantially."*

Some of the energy efficient products promoted by Efficiency UNITED include these LED light bulbs and night lights and a water saving shower. (Keweenaw Now file photo)

Though the first phase of the Georgetown competition is winding down, HEET is still in business, she noted.

"We are still doing what we’ve always done: finding leaky homes and working with volunteers to tighten them up," Davis said.

HEET trains volunteers to winterize their own homes, then brings together groups of volunteers to help tighten up other residences in the community.

"It’s like a 'handy guy' party, where the homeowner gets an assist and everyone has a good time," said Davis. "We do this twice a month."**

None of HEET’s success would have been possible without widespread community support.

"Dozens of local businesses, municipalities, service organizations and individuals put an oar in and kept HEET moved along," Davis said. "Thanks to their support, we’re still going strong."

* For more information on Efficiency UNITED, visit

** To learn more about HEET go to Click on "Volunteer" to find out how you can help with winterizing residences.