Monday, November 20, 2017

MDEQ to hold public meeting on Humboldt Mill permit amendment request Nov. 27

Outflow from Humboldt Mill basin. (Photo © Jeremiah Eagle Eye and courtesy Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve)

MARQUETTE -- The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ), Oil, Gas, and Minerals Division, will hold a public meeting from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 27, 2017, at the Westwood High School auditorium, 300 Westwood Drive, Ishpeming, Michigan 49849, regarding Lundin Mining’s request to amend their Humboldt Mill Mining Permit MP 01 2010, issued under Part 632, Nonferrous Metallic Mineral Mining, of the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act, 1994 PA 451, as amended. The public comment period will follow the meeting through 5 p.m., Dec. 26, 2017.

Lundin is requesting approval to place tailings to a higher elevation in the Humboldt Tailings Disposal Facility than currently permitted. The MDEQ has determined that the request constitutes a significant change from the conditions of the approved mine permit, and as such the review of the request will proceed as for a new permit application.
 
The purpose of the meeting is for MDEQ to (1) notify the public that an amendment request is under review and how to access relevant documents (2) provide information regarding the review process and how to submit comments, and (3) receive questions and comments from the public for the MDEQ to consider prior to making a proposed decision.

Written comments will be accepted at the meeting, and until 5 p.m. Dec. 26, 2017. Mail comments to DEQ Humboldt Mill Amendment Request, Oil, Gas, and Minerals Division, 1504 West Washington Street, Marquette, MI 49855, or E-mail comments to the designated MDEQ mailbox at DEQ: Mining-Comments@michigan.gov, including "Humboldt Mill Amendment Request" as the subject.

The Humboldt Mill Amendment Request document is located on the following DEQ web page:
http://www.michigan.gov/documents/deq/deq-ogmd-mining-Eagle_Mine_Humboldt_Mill_Part_632_Amendment_Request_-_Condition_F4_595910_7.pdf 

Documents related to the Humboldt Mill Mining Permit are located on the following web pages: 

Mining Permit MP 01 2010: 
http://www.michigan.gov/documents/deq/Kennecott_Humboldt_Mining_Permit_387350_7.pdf

Environmental Impact Assessment:
http://www.michigan.gov/documents/deq/DEQ_FTP_372266_7.pdf 

Nonferrous Metallic Mining Website: 
http://www.michigan.gov/deq/0,4561,7-135-3311_18442-359902--,00.html


Individuals needing accommodations for effective participation at the hearing should contact Tina Coluccio, 906-228-4524 one week in advance of the hearing date to request mobility, visual, hearing, or other assistance.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Letter: Help earthquake victims through this Thanksgiving fundraiser

Fundraiser poster for earthquake victims courtesy Sara Alian. Click on poster for larger version.

From: Sara Alian, Michigan Tech alumna and current research assistant professor at the University of Texas, El Paso

Dear Houghton/Hancock Community,

You might have heard about the recent devastating earthquake in the western side of Iran (Kermanshah Province). I have moved away from Houghton, but my heart is still there with the beautiful Keweenaw and your very supportive community. My experience from your community fundraisers for Nepal, Haiti, Ecuador, etc, and the Unity March held last February reminds me of your generosity.

To support these earthquake victims who have lost their family members, houses, etc., I am raising funds to get some essential goods and healthcare products for women and kids. I will travel to Iran soon, and I will keep you posted regarding the process. The fundraiser continues from now through Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 23, only. You can donate by sending a check paid to me, Sara Alian, with this memo: Earthquake Relief. You may drop off a check or cash in an envelope with my name at the Canterbury House, 1405 E. Houghton Ave., near the Michigan Tech campus until Friday, Nov. 17. Otherwise please mail a check (postmarked by Nov. 22 if possible) with any amount to the following: Sara Alian, c/o Canterbury House, 1405 E. Houghton Ave., Houghton, MI 49931.*

Thank you in advance for your generosity.

Sincerely,

Sara Alian

* Editor's Note: Canterbury House, affiliated with the Episcopal Campus Ministry, provides a safe place for Michigan Tech and Finlandia students, faculty, staff and their families to gather for conversation, food and fellowship. To learn more about their work visit their Facebook page.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

State announces 3 public feedback sessions on final version of Line 5 Alternatives Analysis report

From: Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, Michigan Agency for Energy
Posted Nov. 8, 2017

Michigan Tech's environmental monitoring buoy for the Straits of Mackinac was deployed on Aug. 18, 2015, from the NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) research vessel R 5501 with the assistance of Tech's S/V Osprey, pictured here with the buoy just west of the Mackinac Bridge, which can be seen in the background. Michigan Tech's Guy Meadows, Great Lakes Research Center director, is now in discussions with the State to put together a team of academic experts from colleges and universities to perform a new risk analysis for Enbridge's Line 5 pipeline under the Straits. Click on photo for larger version. (Keweenaw Now file photo courtesy Guy Meadows)

LANSING -- Three public feedback sessions have been scheduled in December so the public can suggest the next steps the State should take regarding Line 5, Enbridge's 64-year-old pipeline under the Straits of Mackinac, based on information in the final version of the independent Alternatives Analysis. The report is scheduled to be released publicly on Nov. 20, and comments will be accepted online or by mail until Dec. 22, 2017.

The report by independent contractor Dynamic Risk Assessment Systems, Inc. analyzed alternatives to using Line 5, owned by Enbridge Energy Partners, L.P., to transport light crude oil and natural gas liquids from Superior, Wis., through the Straits of Mackinac to Sarnia, Ontario, Canada.

The draft report was released in July, followed by one public information meeting, three public feedback sessions, and a 45-day period where the public could offer comments and replies to comments on the report. All comments and replies to comments were considered for inclusion into the final report.*

After the State completes its review of the alternatives report, Enbridge has five business days beginning on Nov. 13 to review the report ahead of its public release a week later. Under Enbridge’s formal agreement with the state to provide funding for the Alternatives Analysis report, the company cannot ask for or have any changes made to the document.

Details about the public feedback opportunities:
  • Wednesday, Dec. 6, in Taylor, beginning at 6 p.m., at the Heinz C. Prechter Educational and Performing Arts Center, Wayne County Community College District, Downriver Campus, 21000 Northline Road.
  • Tuesday, Dec. 12, in St. Ignace, beginning at 6 p.m., at the Little Bear Arena and Community Center, 275 Marquette St.
  • Wednesday, Dec. 13, in Traverse City, beginning at 6 p.m., West Bay Beach Holiday Inn Resort, Leelanau Banquet Rooms, 615 E. Front St.
With the report’s release Nov. 20 on the Pipeline Safety Advisory Board website, a 30-day window opens for online comments about what the State should do regarding the future of Line 5. The Dec. 22 deadline for comments includes two additional days to account for the Thanksgiving state holidays during the comment period. Comments can also be mailed to: Department of Environmental Quality, Attn: Line 5 Alternatives Analysis, P.O. Box 30473, Lansing, MI 48909-7973.

The Michigan Agency for Energy (MAE), Michigan Attorney General’s Office (AG), Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), and Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) will use the Alternatives Analysis and a pending independent Risk Analysis to ensure the informational basis for any decision about the future of Line 5 is robust and complete.

The State of Michigan in August 2016 commissioned independent contractors to complete an alternatives analysis and risk analysis. The risk analysis was not completed after an apparent conflict of interest was discovered on the study team. Dr. Guy Meadows of Michigan Technological University is in discussions with the State to put together a team of academic experts from colleges and universities to perform a new risk analysis.**

Built in 1953, Line 5 is 645 miles long and transports up to 540,000 barrels a day of light crude oil and natural gas liquids. A 4.5-mile section runs beneath the Straits of Mackinac within an easement issued in 1953 by the State of Michigan.

During the press conference at the the 3rd annual Pipe Out Paddle protest against Line 5 on Sept. 2, 2017, in Mackinaw City, Andrea Pierce, co-organizer of the event, who is a member of the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians and administrator of Idle No More Michigan, announces information available about Michigan House Resolution 51, which calls for the shut down of Line 5, and Michigan Senate Bill 292, which aims to shut down oil pipelines in the Great Lakes. Pictured at right is co-organizer Jannan Cornstalk, also of the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians. (File photo by Keweenaw Now)***

Pipeline Safety Advisory Board meeting details

The next quarterly meeting of the state’s Pipeline Safety Advisory Board (PSAB) is Dec. 11. The location is the Causeway Bay Lansing Hotel and Convention Center, Ballrooms F-J, 6820 S. Cedar St., Lansing.

The PSAB, created by Executive Order 2015-12, is charged with making recommendations or advising the State on pipeline issues. It also advises state agencies on matters related to pipeline routing, construction, operation, and maintenance, as well as ensuring public transparency. While the PSAB advises the state on matters concerning energy pipelines, it does not have decision-making authority and it does not control the contract administration.

Keep up on PSAB activities by signing up for its listserv. 

Editor's Notes:

* Click here for the draft Alternatives Analysis report by Dynamic Risk Assessment Systems, Inc., issued in July 2017. Click here for the Dynamic Risk presentation given at the July 6, 2017, Public Information Meeting in Lansing. Note that the final report, to be issued on Nov. 20, 2017, may include changes based on public input.

** See our Nov. 5, 2017, article, "UPDATED: State agencies note Enbridge lack of transparency on Line 5 damage; Oil and Water Don't Mix calls for Day of Action Nov. 6 to demand Line 5 shutdown."

*** See our Sept. 16, 2017, article, "3rd annual Pipe Out Paddle protest against Enbridge's Line 5 under Mackinac Straits attracts Native, non-Native water protectors."

Thursday, November 09, 2017

Isle Royale National Park seeks public comments on new fares proposed for Ranger III

Ranger III, the National Park Service's ferry to Isle Royale. (Photo courtesy Isle Royale National Park)

HOUGHTON -- The Ranger III, the National Park Service’s ferry to and from Isle Royale, has been sailing under the same fare structure since 2013. Isle Royale National Park is now proposing to update the Ranger III passenger and freight fares for 2018 and encourages the public to comment on these proposed changes before a final decision is made. The comment period is open until Dec. 8, 2017.

The proposed fare changes include the following:
  • One-Way Low Season Adult Fare: $55 (up from $53 in 2017)
  • One-Way High Season Adult Fare: $70 (up from $63 in 2017)
  • One-Way All Season Child Fare: $35 (up from $23 in 2017)
  • One-Way Canoe/Kayak Fare: $30 (up from $22 in 2017)
  • One-Way Boat (less than 18’01”) Fare: $100 (up from $90 in 2017)
  • One-Way Boat (18’01” – 20’00”) Fare: $150 (up from $140 in 2017)
  • Keweenaw Waterway Cruise Adult Fare: $30 (up from $20 in 2017)
  • Keweenaw Waterway Cruise Child Fare: $15 (up from $5 in 2017)
Click here for the full Ranger III passenger and freight proposed fare structure.

To comment, stop by the Houghton Visitor Center Monday through Friday, 8:15 a.m. to 4:15 p.m., or go online at: https://parkplanning.nps.gov/ranger3fares.

All Ranger III fares stay within the park, help to maintain the vessel, pay staffing costs, and provide services for the public. The proposed fare change would take effect starting January 2, 2018.

Sunday, November 05, 2017

UPDATED: State agencies note Enbridge lack of transparency on Line 5 damage; Oil and Water Don't Mix calls for Day of Action Nov. 6 to demand Line 5 shutdown

By Michele Bourdieu

Photo showing damaged coating on Line 5 pipeline. (Photo courtesy Oil and Water Don't Mix)

LANSING -- In an Oct. 27, 2017, press release the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), Michigan Agency for Energy (MAE) and Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) expressed concerns that Enbridge knew of damage in the protective coating on a portion of Line 5 in the Straits of Mackinac.

The press release states that Enbridge Energy Partners, which owns and operates the line, possessed information about the damage in 2014 and failed to disclose it to Michigan state agencies. The damage to the coating occurred when Enbridge was installing anchors meant to better secure the pipeline to the lake bottom.

Call for Day of Action, Monday, Nov. 6

In response, the Oil and Water Don't Mix (OWDM) Campaign, a group based in Traverse City that has been calling attention to the dangers of Line 5 since 2013, is asking everyone who wants to see Enbridge's Line 5 decommissioned to call Michigan Attorney General Schuette on Monday, Nov. 6, and demand that he revoke Enbridge’s easement and begin the process of decommissioning Line 5 now.*

"The damaged coating left the bare steel of the pipeline exposed to the strong and unpredictable currents in the Straits of Mackinac, inviting corrosion and further weakening the pipeline," said Sean McBrearty, OWDM Campaign coordinator. "This fact, combined with the fact that the pipeline is ovalling and bending due to Enbridge not having the required anchor supports, leaves Line 5 in a very dangerous condition with winter conditions approaching that would make any spill from the pipeline nearly impossible to clean up."

Mary Pelton Cooper of Marquette, left, is pictured here with June Thaden of Traverse City during the Sept. 2, 2017, Pipe Out Paddle protest against Line 5. Both support the activist organization Oil and Water Don't Mix, which has been calling for the shutdown of Line 5 since 2013 and has called for a Day of Action on Monday, Nov. 6, asking concerned citizens to call Attorney General Bill Schuette to demand that he decommission Line 5. (Keweenaw Now file photo)**

DEQ extends permit application deadline for Enbridge

The DEQ has sent Enbridge a request for information on the coating damage to supplement the company's application for a permit to install additional anchors along the pipeline. By request of Enbridge, DEQ extended the application processing deadline from Nov. 2, 2017, to March 2, 2018, in order to more thoroughly review information sent by Enbridge.

The DEQ claims that recent pressure tests have confirmed the structural integrity of the pipeline. Nevertheless, the coatings remain a concern to state agencies because of the coating’s role in protecting the pipeline -- and because some of the damage was caused by Enbridge’s actions during maintenance activities. In addition, Enbridge had as recently as March of this year represented to the state’s Pipeline Safety Advisory Board that there were no known concerns about the Line 5 coating, despite having documentation of this damage in 2014.

"The DEQ is going to take this revelation very seriously and will conduct a thorough assessment of the information to consider during our continued review of the permit application," said DEQ Director C. Heidi Grether.

Valerie Brader, MAE executive director and co-chair of the Pipeline Safety Advisory Board, expressed disappointment at Enbridge's lack of transparency concerning the coating deficiencies.

"Enbridge owes the people of Michigan, the Advisory Board and the State an apology," Brader said. "This issue is too important to the people of Michigan to not tell the truth in a timely manner, and right now any trust we had in Enbridge has been seriously eroded."

DNR Director Keith Creagh also called for greater transparency and oversight concerning Line 5.

"We will be seeking to ensure there are mechanisms in place to increase communication and stewardship on the part of Enbridge in the future," Creagh said.

Also expressing concern was Capt. Chris A. Kelenske, Deputy State Director of Emergency Management and Homeland Security and commander of the Michigan State Police, Emergency Management and Homeland Security Division.

"It is imperative to have a good working relationship with our public and private sector partners to ensure public safety," Kelenske stated. "When one of our partners withholds vital information, it makes emergency and disaster preparedness, response, and recovery difficult."

Line 5 is a 645-mile pipeline built in 1953 and runs from Superior, Wisconsin, to Sarnia, Canada. It transports up to 540,000 barrels a day of light crude oil and natural gas liquids. According to the Oct. 27 press release, the state is awaiting completion of an independent alternatives analysis regarding the Straits pipeline. Negotiations are ongoing between the state and a proposed contractor for a separate independent risk analysis on Line 5.

Michigan Tech invited to lead state universities in risk analysis

See Nov. 6, 2017, UPDATE below.

According to a Sept. 18, 2017, article by Stefanie Sidortsova in the Michigan Tech News, "State recommends Michigan Tech to lead Line 5 risk analysis," the Michigan Pipeline Safety Advisory Board (PSAB) voted unanimously on Sept. 18 to recommend Michigan Tech be placed at the helm of a risk analysis for Line 5, and "collaborate with other state universities to analyze the environmental and economic impacts of a 'worst-case scenario' spill or release."

The article notes that Guy Meadows, Michigan Tech professor and director of the Great Lakes Research Center, who has been serving as the representative of state universities on the Pipeline Safety Advisory Board, recused himself from the PSAB Sept. 18 vote when Michigan Tech's name came up.

Guy Meadows, director of Michigan Tech's Great Lakes Research Center, is pictured here with Michigan Tech's environmental monitoring buoy that was deployed on Aug. 18, 2015, in the Straits of Mackinac, just west of the Mackinac Bridge. The buoy is intended to provide real-time environmental monitoring of the water conditions and to improve safety for Enbridge's pipelines under the Straits. (File photo courtesy Guy Meadows)

"If the State agrees with the recommendation, Meadows will resign from the board to lead the risk analysis process," the article adds.

It also notes the following:

"In conducting the risk analysis, Michigan Tech and the state universities would be tasked with analyzing:
  • The environmental fate and transport of oil or other products released from the Straits pipelines in a worst-case scenario,
  • How long it would take to contain and clean up the worst-case release,
  • The short- and long-term public health and safety impacts,
  • The short- and long-term ecological impacts, and
  • Potential measures to restore the affected natural resources and mitigate the ecological impacts."
The article adds that Michigan Tech and the other state universities would be under contract with the State of Michigan, would seek public comments on their work, and would have six months to complete their final report.***

UPDATE from Stefanie Sidortsova: At the present time (Nov. 6, 2017), Michigan Tech and the State of Michigan have not yet entered into a contract for the Line 5 risk analysis. Guy Meadows is finalizing a team of researchers who will develop a proposal for the State’s evaluation. After the proposal is submitted, there will probably be some back and forth communication between the team and the State regarding methods, approach, etc. The goal is to have a contract by Jan. 1, 2018, and to be finished with the draft assessment by the end of June 2018. Meadows has submitted to the Governor a letter of resignation from the Pipeline Safety Advisory Board.

Notes:

* Click here to learn how you can participate in the Nov. 6 Day of Action against Enbridge's Line 5.

** See our Sept. 16, 2017, article, "3rd annual Pipe Out Paddle protest against Enbridge's Line 5 under Mackinac Straits attracts Native, non-Native water protectors."

*** Click here to read the complete article by Stefanie Sidortsova, Michigan Tech Communications and Public Relations director, "State recommends Michigan Tech to lead Line 5 risk analysis," in the Michigan Tech News.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

41 North Film Festival to offer films, discussion, music, more Nov. 2-5 at Rozsa Center

Voices of Light/The Passion of Joan of Arc, an evening of film and music in collaboration with the Keweenaw Symphony Orchestra and the ConScience Michigan Tech Chamber Singers, will open this year's 41 North Film Festival at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 2, in the Rozsa Center for the Performing Arts. (Photo courtesy Rozsa Center)

HOUGHTON -- From a silent film accompanied by a symphony and choral performance to topical and historical films with expert panelists, the 41 North Film Festival brings together acclaimed films from around the world -- with participants from the local community -- for engaging, informative and inspiring events Nov. 2 -5 at Michigan Tech's Rozsa Center. In celebration of this year's theme of community, the festival will also present a special "City Light" award to retired Michigan Tech film professor and photographer Joe Kirkish in recognition of his many contributions to film appreciation in the Keweenaw.

Kicking the festival off at 7:30 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 2, is Voices of Light/The Passion of Joan of Arc, an evening of film and music in collaboration with the Keweenaw Symphony Orchestra and the ConScience Michigan Tech Chamber Singers. The 1928 silent film classic by Danish director Carl Th. Dreyer will be presented with Richard Einhorn's hauntingly beautiful composition for solo voices, chorus and orchestra performed live. Famed film historian and theorist David Bordwell will participate in the event, giving a public lecture earlier in the day on Dreyer’s work at 2 p.m. in the Rozsa.

On Friday at 7:30 p.m., the festival offers a chance to contemplate and debate artificial intelligence innovations with its presentation of AlphaGo (Kohs, 2016), the story of Google Deepmind’s A.I. challenge match with the world champion of the complex Chinese board game Go. Several Michigan Tech faculty who work in this field will be joined for a panel discussion by recent Michigan Tech grad Josh Manela of Argo A.I., a Ford subsidiary developing self-driving cars.

The celebration of community ramps up on Saturday. Joe Kirkish will be honored before the screening of Faces Places (Agnès Varda/JR, 2017) at 4 p.m. A reception for Kirkish follows the film at 6 p.m. Cake and beverages will be served. Kevin Blackstone and Clare Zuraw will provide music.

At 7:30 p.m. Saturday,
the festival explores local heritage with its presentation of the Swedish film Sami Blood (Kernell, 2016), the story of a young Sami woman in the 1930s who struggles with racism when forced to attend a government school. The film will be shown with Ogichidaa (Ryan, 2017), featuring Michigan Tech’s Jerry Jondreau of the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community. Finlandia University’s Jim Kurtti, Hilary Virtanen, and Joanna Chopp will join Jondreau for a discussion following the film.

Sami Blood will be shown at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 4, at the Rozsa, followed by Ogichidaa), featuring Michigan Tech’s Jerry Jondreau of the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community, as part of the community heritage exploration during the 41 North Film Festival. A discussion will follow these two films. (Photo courtesy 41 North Film Festival)

Ending the four-day line-up is Far Western (James D. Payne, 2016), which tells the story of a dedicated group of Japanese country/bluegrass musicians and the unique bonds forged across cultures through music. Keweenaw Brewgrass takes the stage to start off the event at 7 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 5.

Among other feature films included this year are Dealt (Luke Korem, 2017),  Buzz One Four (Matt McCormick, 2017), Brimstone and Glory (Viktor Jakovleski, 2017), Donkeyote (Chico Pereira, 2017), ACORN and the Firestorm (Reuben Atlas, Samuel D. Pollard, 2017), The Migrumpies (Arman T. Riahi, 2017), The Good Postman (Tonislav Hristov, 2017), This Giant Papier Mache Boulder is Actually Really Heavy (Christian Nicolson, 2016) (shown in Fisher 135), and The Road Movie (Dmitry Kalashnikov, 2017).

All events are free with the exception of Voices of Light/The Passion of Joan of Arc. Tickets for that event are $19 for adults, $6 for youth, and free for Michigan Tech Students with the Experience Tech fee. A free film festival ticket is required for admission to free events. All tickets are available by phone at (906) 487-2073, online at mtu.edu/rozsa, in person at the Central Ticketing Office in the Student Development Complex, or at the door at the Rozsa Box Office (opens one hour prior to event start).

Sponsors include the Humanities Department, the Visual and Performing Arts department, Minnesota Public Radio, and the Rozsa Center for the Performing Arts. To learn more about the films and events, visit http://41northfilmfest.org. Click here for the schedule. For more information email 41north@mtu.edu.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Peruvian documentary on indigenous struggle against gold mining resembles local fight against Back 40 gold mining project near Menominee River

By Michele Bourdieu

Following the showing of the Peruvian documentary film Daughter of the Lake at Michigan Tech, Miguel Levy, Michigan Tech professor of physics and coordinator of the Indigenous Peoples' Day Campaign, a community group concerned about indigenous peoples' rights, invites the audience to ask questions of the film's director, Ernesto Cabellos, via Skype. (Photos by Keweenaw Now unless otherwise indicated.)

HOUGHTON -- Nélida -- an indigenous woman with a love for her Andean lakes, a belief in water spirits, and a desire to educate herself in the law in order to help her people -- joins a struggle against a gold mining company threatening her community's water: This true story told through the documentary film Daughter of the Lake (Hija de la Laguna) was screened recently at Michigan Tech by the Indigenous Peoples' Day Campaign, a local community group of Native and non-Native members concerned about indigenous peoples' rights.

Miguel Levy, Michigan Tech professor of physics and unofficial coordinator of the group, arranged the Sept. 20, 2017, screening of the film as well as a Skype communication with the Peruvian director, Ernesto Cabellos, to allow the local audience to ask questions of the director following the film. In addition, the group invited Ken Fish, a member of the Menominee Tribe in Wisconsin, who have been protesting a similar gold mining project -- Aquila Resources' proposed Back 40 project near the Menominee River -- to speak about his own experiences in fighting destructive extractive industries that threaten Native and non-Native communities.

"The film highlights the key role played by indigenous people, particularly women, in the protection of the environment and in opposition to the human and environmental costs of gold mining in the Peruvian Andes," Levy said. "The participation in this screening by Ken Fish from the Menominee tribe in Wisconsin, who are also facing the threat of contamination from gold mining of the Menominee River, highlights the commonality of interests of indigenous as well as non-indigenous people in this struggle."

Here Levy introduces the film, giving some background on the mining company in Peru and the indigenous resistance against their gold mining project:

Miguel Levy, Michigan Tech professor of physics, introduces the film Daughter of the Lake, a documentary about indigenous peoples' struggles against a gold mining operation in Peru. The film was sponsored by the local Indigenous Peoples' Day Campaign group and followed by a discussion via Skype with the filmmaker, Ernesto Cabellos. Click on YouTube icon for larger screen. (Videos by Keweenaw Now)

Nélida Ayay Chilón, 31, the protagonist of the film, is from the community of Porcón (Cajamarca, Peru). She is a farmer and now an environmental leader too, in a land where mining companies have been working since 1992. Although she loves living in the countryside and taking care of her animals and crops, she had to move to the city of Cajamarca in order to attend the university. She’s currently studying law to defend herself and her community from the abuses caused by mining activity. Nélida is a surprisingly tough woman, who is determined to defend Mother Earth and Mother Water.

Nélida is pictured here beside an Andean lake that appears in the film. At one point in the film, she learns about innocent protesters who were killed in clashes with the police and places photos of them in the lake as an offering to Mother Water. Like other indigenous citizens in the Andes, her relationship with nature is sacred and respectful. (Photo courtesy Guarango Film and Video and Ernesto Cabellos)

According to the film, Nélida is able to communicate with nature’s spirits. She feels she is the daughter of the lakes that provide water to her village. But just beneath her lakes, Yanacocha, Latin America’s largest gold mining company, has discovered a deposit valued at billions of dollars. They have the Peruvian government’s support to mine it, even though it means drying out the lakes.

The indigenous farmers who fear losing their water not only have to confront the political and economic powers, but also the people in their communities who now depend on the small jobs the mine has given them. When Nélida joins the march from her homeland to Lima, the country’s capital, over a thousand kilometers away, she realizes she’s not alone. There are thousands of people who want to protect the Andean water sources.

The poster for the Sept. 20 showing of the film at Michigan Tech shows Nélida near her Andean home with flowers she offers to the spirits of the water. (Poster courtesy Indigenous Peoples' Day Campaign)

At one point in the film, addressing Mother Earth, Nélida says, "Mother Earth, you have gold inside you. Do you know why they take your gold out of you? To have reserves of ingots in their banks. You
can’t drink gold. You can’t eat gold. Now, blood is being spilt for this gold. If it is so useful to the big and powerful, make them take it out of their reserves and recycle it, but don’t let them destroy you anymore. If we take good care of you, you can feed us forever."

Máxima Acuña de Chaupe, a Peruvian subsistence farmer who lives beside Nélida’s lake, as Miguel Levy mentions in his introduction, is threatened and beaten by men hired by the mining company because she refuses to give up her land.

"It’s this greed for gold that makes them want to take my land away from me no matter what, even using force," Máxima says. "Well basically, they came into my territory with their guns, fully armed. Right after they had called me to tell me they were going to kill me. We want to denounce this and to ask for protection, because they won’t let us live here peacefully."

Ernesto Cabellos, director of the film, was born in Lima, Peru, in 1968. In 1994, he founded Guarango, a documentary filmmakers association. His award-winning films chronicle over 10 years of conflict between communities and mining companies in Peru. Ernesto's documentaries have been selected in more than 150 international film festivals, obtaining 35 awards and distinctions, and broadcast on international television channels.*

Following the screening of Daughter of the Lake, Ernesto spoke via Skype to the audience at Michigan Tech and welcomed questions on the film.

Local attorney Evan Dixon asked a question about the heroine Nélida's legal studies.

In answer to Evan Dixon's question on how Nélida's legal studies might be funded so that she can continue her human rights work, Ernesto speaks about an organization that raises funds and helps connect communities working for human rights so they can share knowledge and receive support.

During the discussion, Gustavo Bourdieu asks Ernesto if Peru has any laws to protect the water.

Ernesto replies to Gustavo Bourdieu's question on laws for water protection, noting that despite laws that state people's right to clean water, the reality is quite different in the presence of powerful extractive industries, such as the gold mining company in the film.

Opposition to Back 40 gold mining project near Menominee River parallels struggle portrayed in film

Following the film screening, Ken Fish spoke about the importance of protecting the water from mining pollution -- and his Menominee Tribe's opposition to the Aquila Back 40 gold mining project, which is planned to be an open-pit sulfide mine located about 10 miles from Stephenson, Michigan, near the Menominee River and the Wisconsin border. The proposed mine could impact the quality of the river as well as archaeological sites -- including the origin place of the Menominee people, Native burial sites and prehistoric garden mounds.

Ken Fish of the Menominee Tribe in Wisconsin compares the opposition to the proposed Back 40 mine to the struggles against a similar gold mining project depicted in the film Daughter of the Lake.

Fish noted that, in addition to tribal groups, all but one Wisconsin county near the Back 40 mine site have issued resolutions opposing Aquila's Back 40 mining project. He also referred to the non-Native residents living near the Menominee River who have joined together to oppose the project.

On Sept. 19, 2017, Keweenaw Now visited Michigan residents Jim and Janet Voss, founding members of the Front 40 group that has been opposing the Back 40 gold mining project since 2003.**

Jim and Janet Voss, founding members of the Front 40 environmental group opposing the Back 40 gold mining project, are pictured here at their home, located on the Menominee River, not far from the projected mine site.

Jim and Janet, both retired teachers, built their retirement home on this peaceful spot, where they have lived for 32 years.

"We like it here," Jim said. "We don't want a mine here."

View of the Menominee River near the home of Jim and Janet Voss. (September 2017 photo by Keweenaw Now)

Sign indicating Aquila Resources Field Office, located near the projected mine site.

Despite much opposition to the Back 40 project expressed at public hearings and other events, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) has granted Aquila Resources a Part 632 mining permit (issued Dec. 28, 2016); an NPDES (National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System) permit (effective Apr. 5, 2017), which includes piping wastewater discharge to the Menominee River; and an Air Quality permit to install (issued Dec. 28, 2016). The project still needs a Wetlands and Inland Streams permit from MDEQ.***

Aquila intends to construct an 800-feet deep open pit mine adjacent to the river, with a cut-off wall (to limit the movement of groundwater) less than 100 feet from the river. In addition to mining activities, the Back Forty calls for on-site crushing, milling, and refining through the use of flotation, separation and the use of cyanide. Two different tailings basins will be constructed to contain the waste-rock slurry, or what the industry calls "mine slimes."***

Jim Voss pointed out the burial mounds and ridges marking prehistoric garden sites in the area.

"This must have been almost a paradise for the Native Americans," he said. "You had the river -- where you had sturgeon, otter, beaver, clams, crayfish and other fish. Then you had the garden beds where they raised corn and possibly beans and squash."

This ancestral burial mound is among the archaeological sites that could be impacted by the proposed Back 40 mine.

In addition to local governments' opposition to the Back 40 project, tribal governments that have passed resolutions against the mine include the Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin, the Oneida Tribe of Wisconsin, the Bad River Ojibwe Tribe of Wisconsin, the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community of Michigan, the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi,the Saginaw Chippewa Tribe and the Chippewa Ottawa Resource Authority of Michigan. American Rivers, a national conservation organization has listed the Menominee River as one of the 10 most endangered rivers due to the threat from sulfide mining.****

Following the Dec. 28, 2016, MDEQ approval of the Part 632 mining permit, Menominee Tribal Chairwoman, Joan Delabreau, stated the following:
"The approved desecration of our ancestors’ burial sites is absolutely disgraceful. What’s more egregious is the fact that the State of Michigan is knowingly permitting a foreign company the right to destroy the water and environmental quality, which poses additional consequences for all within the Great Lakes Basin and demonstrates the continued incompetence of the Department. The Tribe will continue to fight for the protection of our ancestors and the water and environmental quality."*****

This photo of the Menominee River was taken near prehistoric garden sites located on State of Michigan land near the proposed mine site. Archaeologists have estimated the gardens date between 1100 and 1300 A.D.

Asked if he and his wife plan to stay even if Aquila receives all its permits, Jim Voss replied, "That's our plan. We don't plan on going anywhere."

Notes:

* The film Daughter of the Lake can be seen on Netflix, available to subscribers here.

** To learn about the Front 40 group click here.

*** For more information about the Back 40 mine and links to DEQ permitting so far, see the the Upper Peninsula Environmental Coalition's (UPEC's) Mining Action Group's Aquila Back 40 Facts.

**** See July 2017 Action Alert from the Mining Action Group (formerly Save the Wild U.P.)

***** Click here to read more about the Menominee Tribe's opposition to the Back 40 mining project. See also Keweenaw Now's Oct. 29, 2016, article by Horst Schmidt, "DEQ hearing on Aquila Back Forty mining project attracts hundreds; deadline for written comments is Nov. 3."

Friday, October 27, 2017

Movie, discussion to feature Rear Admiral David Titley Oct. 30 at Michigan Tech

Poster announcing visit of Rear Admiral David W. Titley (ret) and showing of the film The Age of Consequences at 7 p.m. Monday, Oct. 30, in Fisher 135 at Michigan Tech. (Poster courtesy Earth Planetary and Space Sciences Institute)

HOUGHTON -- The leader of the US Navy's 2009 Task Force on Climate Change, Rear Admiral David Titley (retired), will be on the Michigan Tech campus Monday, Oct. 30, to introduce a film on climate change in which he is featured.

This movie, The Age of Consequences, investigates the impacts of climate change on increased resource scarcity, migration and conflict through the lens of national security and global stability.

The film will be shown at 7 p.m. Monday, Oct. 30, in Fisher 135. Admiral Titley, who is in the film, will help introduce it and then participate in a discussion session following the film showing. The discussion will include a Q and A with the audience. The film and discussion are free and open to the public.

Pentagon insiders make the compelling case that if we go on with business as usual, the consequences of climate change will continue to grow in scale and frequency with grave implications for peace and security in the 21st century.

Described as The Hurt Locker meets An Inconvenient Truth, The Age of Consequences unpacks how water and food shortages, extreme weather, drought and sea-level rise function as accelerants of instability and catalysts for conflict.

Titley served as a naval officer for 32 years. His career included duties as commander of the Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Command; oceanographer and navigator of the Navy and deputy assistant chief of naval operations for information dominance.

After retiring from the Navy, Dr. Titley served as the Deputy Undersecretary of Commerce for Operations, the chief operating officer position at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).  

Titley holds a bachelor's, master's and PhD in meteorology. He is a professor of practice in the Department of Meteorology at Penn State University and founding director of Penn State’s Center for Solutions to Weather and Climate Risk.

On Monday afternoon, Titley will attend an Earth, Planetary and Space Sciences Institute (EPSSI) seminar at Michigan Tech.

Click here to learn more about Admiral Titley and his work.