Sokaogon Chippewa Community News
Back Forty Mine Dealt Another Blow as Michigan Judge Stalls Decision on Key Permit
By Laura Schulte, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
A proposed mine along the Menominee River in Michigan is facing another roadblock after a judge asked that a decision to approve a necessary permit be revisited.
A Michigan Circuit Court judge last month asked that a 2019 decision to approve a mining permit for Aquila Resources should be revisited, according to nonprofit environmental law firm Earthjustice. In the order, the judge directed that additional evidence was needed in the original permit application, including documented concerns from Michigan environmental regulators regarding flawed groundwater modeling.
The denial is related to a January decision by a Michigan administrative law judge to overturn the company’s wetland permit after months of hearings. The judge said the permit submitted by Aquila did not provide reliable identification of wetland impacts and found that the application was incomplete.
The judge also said that the company failed to provide a complete assessment of potential alternatives to the proposed plan because several of the alternatives offered, such as an underground mine, did not include costs for operation.
“With one permit denied, this ruling means a second permit needed for this mine to advance now hangs in the balance,” said Gussie Lord, an Earthjustice attorney who directs the organization’s Tribal Partnerships program. “We will continue to defend this cherished river on behalf of the Menominee Tribe, and we look forward to the day when we can say we have halted this project.”