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A U.P. Sulfide Mining Rush?

Blog Archive | March 2, 2010 | By Glenn Puit

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A Canadian company wants to mine sulfide, which reacts with water to create sulfuric acid, very near the U.P.’s Menominee River.

I remember the first time I saw the Menominee River.

It took my breath away.

As the river approaches Menominee, it is fat, wide, and slow moving. I saw men and women on inner tubes floating slowly by on a hot summer day, where the river cuts through a gorgeous stretch of trees, and I immediately knew that the Menominee is yet another example of the incredible gifts of nature found in Michigan. We each hold these gifts so closely to our hearts in our own special way, and we know we have to do everything possible to insure their welfare for future generations.

Sadly, I’m blogging about this because the glorious Menominee River, like the Salmon Trout River near Big Bay, is now under attack. Another mining company, this one out of Canada, wants to dig a sulfide mine near the Menominee, outside of Stephenson, in the western Upper Peninsula. The company, Aquila Resources Inc., wants to get the same kind of state permit that allows Rio Tinto and its subsidiary, Kennecott Minerals Company, to mine sulfide under the Salmon Trout.

Read Capital News Service’s coverage of the proposal here.

We’ve reported extensively on sulfide mining before, about the secret campaign contributions given by Kennecott Minerals to the state Democratic and Republican parties. About the state Department of Environmental Qualityapproving Kennecott’s sulfide mine in a way that seemed awfully cozy and raised conflict of interest questions. And about sulfide mining’s terribly toxic history and flaws in the state’s current, allegedly very protective sulfide mining law.

The new Menominee proposal takes me back to an interview I did three years ago with Cynthia Prior, head of the Yellowdog Watershed Preserve, as we stood on the bank of the Salmon Trout, commonly referred to as the Yellow Dog. It, too, is a glorious river, and as it crept by on that hot summer day in the woods, Ms. Prior predicted that, if Kennecott’s Salmon Trout mine won approval, there would be a full-fledged sulfide mining rush in the Upper Peninsula.

So, my message to you today is this: Make no mistake about it. The day that Cynthia Prior warned about is here: The U.P.’ sulfide mining rush is on.

I urge you to contact Save the Wild U.P., in Marquette, and our friends at the Sierra Club to find out how you can help stop this very real, very dangerous threat to our rivers.

Glenn Puit is a policy specialist for the Michigan Land Use Institute. Reach him at glenn@mlui.org

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