On Monday, the National Wildlife Federation, issued a press release stating that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has notified Kennecott Eagle Minerals Company that at least one federal permit will be needed before the company can open its proposed sulfide mine near Marquette, Michigan in the Upper Peninsula. Citing concerns over the safety of drinking water in the region, the EPA sent a letter to Kennecott asking the company to submit previously requested information about a treated water filtration system proposed by Kennecott. That system--a series of pipes buried underground that allows treated water to trickle back into the ground--would impact the entire aquifer. The EPA has determined that a permit is required to ensure that the system would not "endanger an underground source of drinking water" while also stating that once the information is received from Kennecott, it will "make a determination about other potential requirements." [emphasis added]This is welcome news because it will stall approval of the mine and give the public more time to comment. Michigan's DEQ earlier said they expected to make their decision by May of this year, but an EPA spokesperson said it would take about six months for their agency to process an application for the permit and a 45-day period would be set aside for public comment and a hearing might be conducted.
State level hearings are scheduled for March 6-8 at Northern Michigan University and March 12 at the Lansing Center in Lansing.
As I said yesterday, I'm not convinced this mine is a good fit for the state. Acid mines are never safe.
Acid mine drainage is an unavoidable and destructive by-product of the sulfide mining process has been deemed one of the most serious threats to water quality by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.Here's how the EPA describes possible damage:
A region impacted by acid mine drainage often has a decline in valued recreational fish species such as trout as well as a general decline in outdoor recreation and tourism along with contamination of groundwater drinking supplies.Marquette County enjoys nearly 1.5 million tourists a year, bringing more than $77 million dollars to the local economy, and creating 1,600 jobs. The proposed mine will only create between 100-250 temporary jobs that are expected to last 5-7 years, and many of those jobs are expected to be filled from people outside the state.
The real benefactor is Kennecott Mining Company who stands to make up to $2.8 billion, and 90% of that will leave Michigan. The company will take their profits back to London. Meanwhile, if our water should become permanently impacted by the toxic sulfuric acid, what happens to those 1,600 jobs that depended on tourists to come and fish, boat and enjoy the outdoor recreation?