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E-M:/ Mine Permit Yanked, DEQ Under Fire

For Immediate Release
March 1, 2007


James Clift, Michigan Environmental Council: 517-256-0553
Marvin Roberson, Sierra Club: 906-360-0288

Tentative Mine Permit Yanked, Suppressed Reports Put DEQ Decision Under Fire

Gov. Jennifer Granholm?s environmental regulators today rescinded preliminary approval for a dangerous Upper Peninsula nickel mine after discovering that key technical reports questioning the mine?s safety have been suppressed by Michigan Department of Environmental Quality staff.

?In a project of this magnitude, with so much at stake, it?s inconceivable that this could happen,? said James Clift of the Michigan Environmental Council. ?We have been arguing all along that the mine did not meet safety standards, so to learn that key data has been buried explains, but doesn?t forgive, the preliminary decision to approve the mine.?

Environmental groups called for a thorough investigation into how key technical reports were buried, who buried them, and what their motivations were.

?We have confidence in the mining law and in the process that?s been created to evaluate proposed mining operations,? said Marvin Roberson of Sierra Club Michigan Chapter. ?But none of that matters if there?s incompetence or malfeasance on the part of the people who apply those rules.?

The Kennecott Minerals Co. nickel mine, which would generate hundreds of thousands of tons of acid-leaching waste rock from underneath the Yellow Dog Plains near Marquette, would be the only mine of its type in Michigan. Several other potential U.P. mine sites are pending as companies wait to see how stringently state officials apply environmental safeguards to Kennecott.

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