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E-M:/ 10,000 tell Governor Granholm: Just say no to dangerous U.P. mine



For Immediate Release

January 8, 2007



               Cynthia Pryor, Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve: 906-360-2414

              James Clift, Michigan Environmental Council: 517-487-9539

            Andy Buchsbaum, National Wildlife Federation, 734-717-3665



Just Say No to Inadequate U.P. Mine, 10,000 Tell Governor

International mining giant’s endeavor would endanger pristine waters, recreational tourism economy in exchange for handful of short-term jobs


     Ten thousand Michigan residents urged Gov. Jennifer Granholm to say no to an inadequate permit application for a risky new metallic sulfide mine in the Upper Peninsula Monday, when a grassroots coalition of U.P. citizens presented the residents’ petition signatures at the State Capitol.


     The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality is expected to make a preliminary decision Tuesday on a permit application filed by Kennecott Eagle Minerals, a subsidiary of London-based Rio Tinto. The company wants to extract nickel and other minerals – along with hundreds of thousands of tons of acid-leaching waste, from underneath the Upper Peninsula’s Yellow Dog Plains.


     Leaders of Upper Peninsula groups including property owners, concerned citizens, faith-based organizations, and tribal members were joined by conservation and environmental leaders from throughout the state as they presented the robust stack of signed petitions. Dana Debel, policy director for Gov. Granholm, accepted the petitions on behalf of the governor and met with grassroots representatives.


     Cynthia Pryor, director of the Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve, was involved in both the petition drive and the meeting


     “An outpouring of opposition to this proposed mine by people from the U.P. and throughout Michigan is clearly illustrated by these petitions. It was important that the Governor see for herself that 10,000 of her constituents have grave concerns about this mine’s impact on our state,” Pryor explained.


     While meeting with Debel, concerned citizens said Kennecott has failed to prove that they can mine in this area without harming the region’s natural resources.


     Joining Upper Peninsula opponents at the meeting were a number of delegates from organizations throughout the state concerned about the impact of the mine.


“The environmental community has carefully crafted legislation which only allows this inherently dangerous type of mining if a company can demonstrate that it can be done safely,” said James Clift, Policy Director at Michigan Environmental Council.  “Kennecott has failed to meet that burden, and the administration should propose a denial of the permit”.  


The mine would be drilled underneath the Salmon-Trout River, home to the only naturally-reproducing strain of the rare coaster brook trout on the southern shore of Lake Superior.


It would bring a relatively small number of temporary jobs that would be gone in less than a decade, along with the profits from the minerals, say mine opponents.


Kennecott’s permit application is the first to be considered under Michigan’s new law regulating non-ferrous metallic mineral mining activities. The statute was passed in late 2004. Nearly one year later, the rules promulgation process was completed. In February of 2006, Kennecott filed a mining permit application.


 Tuesday’s anticipated announcement of a proposed decision by the MDEQ is another step in the process of considering whether the company should be granted a permit, but not the final step. The agency will continue its technical review and, by law, will make a final decision following another public hearing and comment period. The issuance or final denial of the permit will determine whether the project moves forward.