March 16, 2006
xxx xxxxxxxxxx St.
Grand Rapids, MI. xxxxx
Dear Mr. Alicki:
Thank you for taking the time to contact my office about the possibility that mining will take place on the Yellow Dog Plains.
Kennecott Minerals Company has expressed interest in applying for a permit to create a sulfide mine in the Big Bay area. You have raised important questions about the impact this development might have on the quality of life in this beautiful part of Michigan. I appreciate and share your concerns for the Upper Peninsula's pristine environment and your desire for it to remain protected for future generations.
As you know, the DEQ formed a workgroup in 2004 to review the regulation of metallic mineral exploration and other related issues within the mining industry. The workgroup, comprised of concerned citizens, members of conservation and environmental groups, local government officials, scientists, tribes, EPA officials and mining industry representatives, held numerous public meetings and solicited and received comments on the appropriate scope of regulation of nonferrous mining in general. While the workgroup did not review any specific proposed mining operation, it recognized that nonferrous mining would be proposed in areas of extraordinary natural beauty and sensitivity, and that rigorous environmental protections must be fully incorporated in the regulatory framework.
The workgroup made recommendations that were incorporated into Part 632 - Nonferrous Metallic Mineral Mining - of the Natural Resources and Environmental Protections Act, enacted in December 2004. This law gives the DEQ the authority to administer and regulate nonferrous metallic mineral mining in Michigan. The workgroup and the DEQ had until Feb 15, 2006 to create rules regarding standards of construction, operation, closure, monitoring, reclamation and remediation of these mines. During the rules process, The DEQ received numerous comments regarding the content of the rules and held three public hearings. I considered and formally responded to all substantive comments. In February, Keenecott applied for a permit under this law.
On February 23, 2006, I sent a letter to DEQ Director Steven Chester regarding the permit applications they received from Kennecott. In that letter, I asked the DEQ to carefully review these applications to ensure that Kennecott can meet our new and rigorous mining standards. DEQ will not approve the permit unless it meets the standards in the law and rules that ensure its mining will not pollute, impair, or destroy the air, water, and other natural resources, and that the mining area will be restored to a self-sustaining ecosystem that does not require perpetual care. I have enclosed a copy of my correspondence to Director Chester. (Um, no actually you didn't Governor, but I'll let that slide.)
I am confident that strong, effective enforcement of the law can allow new mining to go forward without threatening the natural beauty and environmental quality of this area.
Again, thank you for contacting my office. Your opinion is helpful to me as I make decisions about environmental issues that affect Michigan's future.
Jennifer M. Granholm
Well, what can I say other than "Jennifer, you are dead wrong." Kennecott has one of the worst environmental records of any company in the U.S. Just because there is a new law in place does not mean that they will adhere to the law. And to even suggest that an ecosystem can be restored and made "self-sustaining" after such a destructive practice as sulfide mining is positively ludicrous. The question is not whether Kennecott can "meet rigorous mining standards," the question is whether this type of mining should occur in Michigan at all. This Bear gives a firm thumbs down to Kennecott and the Granholm administration. Although many steps were taken to mitigate damage, Granholm's Republican opponent in the next election - he who is evil and shall remain nameless - could use this as an example of Granholm's poor environmental stewardship.