Thursday, February 18, 2010

Kennecott Fiasco is Playing Out in Minnesota's Boundary Waters

Will the same Kennecott fiasco be allowed to play out in Minnesota's boundary waters?

The Detroit News ran a good story today summarizing the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) 11th hour giveaway to Kennecott, effectively selling out native americans rights and the idea that we are public stewards. The controversy arose out of the fact that that the proposed sulfide mine was located at Eagle Rock which is sacred to the Anishnabe people. What was weird was how sudden the permit was granted. A week before the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) was merged into the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment (MDNRE), they ruled that the Anishnabe people's contention that Eagle Rock was a sacred place of worship could not be recognized by the state of Michigan. The MDEQ's reasoning was that the sacred Eagle Rock is not a place of worship, only buildings can be recognized as places of worship.

The Kennecott Eagle Project is scheduled to begin as early as this spring. Critics say that new mining laws known as Part 632 were not enforced and that a bad precedent has been set.

Now it seems that the floodgates have been opened for risky sulfide mining throughout the Lake Superior region. Sulfide mining is risky because when sulfide ore or the tailings are exposed to air and water it produces sulfuric acid and create havoc in an environment. It can lead to long-term consequences especially if the company goes bankrupt, then taxpayers get stuck with the bill.

Now new sulfide mines are being proposed in Minnesota's Boundary Waters. The proposed mine would be located in the geographic area known as the Duluth complex just south of the boundary waters. The Canadian company Polymet mining have proposed an adjacent open pit sulfide mine that would be located between Hoyt Lakes and Babbitt Minnesota on land in the Superior National Forest. Any contamination from the mine would go the St. Louis River that flows into Lake Superior.

Another mining company Franconia minerals is proposing another mine about 30 miles to the northeast right next to Birch Lake which is part of the boundary waters watershed.

On a personal note, I have enjoyed the epic splendor that is the boundary waters. We traveled 60 miles in a week. Canoeing and portaging from lake to lake. It is a place where you can go days without seeing anybody and the forest gets so thick in some places that you are literally walking on forest debris that is about 10 feet off of the ground. We had water purifiers but after awhile we just drank water straight from the lake with no ill consequences. Minnesota needs to be public stewards of their land for their own sake and for Canada's sake since the Boundary Waters go up into Canada.

Boundary Waters Mining Video

Precious Waters website against Minnesota Sulfide Mining

Links to the Kennecott ordeal:

Controversial Kennecott mine permits OK’d at 11th hour

Save The Wild UP

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