Friday, September 22, 2017

French-Canadian and Métis Heritage Week Sept. 23-30 offers music, dance, stories, more ...

Maple Sugar Folk, accompanied by Dave Bezotte on accordion and Evan Dixon (foreground) on percussion, sing French Canadian songs during the Sept. 16, 2017, Parade of Nations Multicultural Festival in Dee Stadium. They will perform again on Saturday, Sept. 23, at the Lake Linden Farmers Market to kick off French-Canadian and Métis Heritage Week, and again on Friday, Sept. 29, in the Keweenaw Heritage Center at St. Anne's in Calumet. (Photo by Keweenaw Now)

HOUGHTON -- Celebrate French-Canadian and Métis Heritage Week Sept. 23-30 with a variety of local events for the whole family. Here is the schedule:

Saturday, Sept. 23: The celebration begins with a preview event, MUSIC AT LAKE LINDEN FARMERS MARKET, from 11 a.m. - 1 p.m. Enjoy French-Canadian songs by Maple Sugar Folk and fiddling by Laura Shilling. Bring a blanket and enjoy the goods and the music. The market, located in Lake Linden Park, M-26, Lake Linden, is open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Maple Sugar Folk, led by Dave Bezotte on accordion, perform a lively French Canadian tune, "Chantez, Dansez, Sautez ..." (Sing, Dance, Jump ...) outside Dee Stadium in Houghton following the Sept. 16, 2017, Parade of Nations. They also performed onstage during the Parade of Nations Multicultural Festival. Click on YouTube icon for larger screen. (Video by Keweenaw Now)

Wednesday, Sept. 27:

CHILDREN’S STORYTIME AT PORTAGE LAKE DISTRICT LIBRARY, 10:20 a.m. Young children are invited to celebrate French Canadian Heritage Week during Storytime at the Portage Lake District Library. Kids will take an imaginary journey from France to Canada, clap their hands to the rhythm of a musical performance by Dave Bezotte and Evan Dixon, listen to stories about the north, learn how to count in French, and make a voyageur canoe.

During a previous French Canadian Heritage Celebration, children at the Portage Lake District Library Storytime enjoy a story about voyageurs read by Chris Alquist, the library's community programs coordinator. This year the library will host a French Canadian Children's Storytime Wednesday, Sept. 27; Thursday, Sept. 28, and Saturday, Sept. 30. (Keweenaw Now file photo)

DANCE AT THE FINNISH AMERICAN HERITAGE CENTER, 435 Quincy, Hancock, 7 p.m. - 9 p.m. Celebrate French-Canadian Heritage Week and Finlandia University’s Festival Ruska by dancing to Finnish and French-Canadian music by the Thimbleberry Band: folk dances, waltzes, schottisches, polkas and other favorites. $6 admission.*

Thursday, Sept. 28:

CHILDREN’S STORYTIME AT PORTAGE LAKE DISTRICT LIBRARY, 10:20 a.m.  French-Canadian stories and crafts (see above).

AN INTERGENERATIONAL ORAL HISTORY PROJECT AT THE CHASSELL HERITAGE CENTER, 42373 Hancock Ave, Chassell, 7 p.m. - 8 p.m. Ruth Ryynanen discusses and seeks community input on Chassell’s involvement in the UP Digital History Initiative "Your Story" project, pairing youth with older adults to create digital histories. Free -- Donations welcome.

Friday, Sept. 29:

RECITAL AT THE KEWEENAW HERITAGE CENTER AT ST. ANNE’S, 5th and Scott, Calumet, 7 p.m. Music on the Barckhoff pipe organ by Organists of the Keweenaw and folk songs by Maple Sugar Folk. There will be no admission charge, but a free-will offering will be taken.

Saturday, Sept. 30:

CHILDREN’S STORYTIME AT PORTAGE LAKE DISTRICT LIBRARY, 11 a.m. French-Canadian stories and crafts. (See Wednesday, above.)

For more information, contact Dave Bezotte at dbezotte@yahoo.com or 906-370-4956.

* Click here for Finlandia University's  Festival Ruska schedule.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

3rd annual Pipe Out Paddle protest against Enbridge's Line 5 under Mackinac Straits attracts Native, non-Native water protectors

By Michele Bourdieu

During the Sept. 2, 2017, third annual Pipe Out and Paddle protest against Line 5, Enbridge's 64-year-old pipeline under the Straits of Mackinac, Native and non-Native water protectors gather near the Mackinac Bridge with their kayaks and canoes in a tight group to display their banners and sing songs about the water. (Photo © and courtesy Miguel Levy)

MACKINAW CITY -- The third annual Pipe Out and Paddle protest against Enbridge's Line 5 pipeline under the Straits of Mackinac on Sept. 2, 2017, attracted a large crowd of participants -- Native and non-Native -- many of whom paddled in a flotilla a good distance out on the Straits near the Mackinac Bridge. Jostled by the waters of Lakes Huron and Michigan, they held high their banners saying "Shut Down Line 5" and "Water is Life," attracting the attention of cars crossing the bridge, whose drivers honked in support.

Sharing a double kayak, Miguel and Anita Levy of Chassell paddled with the flotilla and captured some of the action for Keweenaw Now.

Miguel Levy recorded this song sung by water protectors during the kayak protest against Line 5 near the Mackinac Bridge. (Video © and courtesy Miguel Levy)

"The water was rough, but it was exciting," Anita said, noting the big waves as well as the solidarity among the paddlers. "One kayak overturned, but they were rapidly rescued efficiently."

Miguel, who coordinates the Indigenous Peoples' Day Campaign group that sponsors events on indigenous rights at Michigan Tech and in the local community, said he learned a bit of history while the kayaks and canoes gathered together in solidarity out in the Straits.

"One of the elders talked about the history of the Ojibwa people moving to this area," he said. "They were facing the Lakota, and then the women devised the drumming as a way of making peace."

Participating in the drumming and singing during the protest was Martin Reinhardt of Marquette, Northern Michigan University (NMU) professor of Native American Studies. Here he introduces a song to honor an eagle that was wounded and rescued during the day:

During a press conference following the flotilla launch, Martin Reinhardt, NMU professor of Native American Studies, announces the rescue of a wounded eagle and joins the Drum in singing a song to honor the eagle spirit. (Videos by Keweenaw Now unless otherwise indicated.)

Reinhardt told Keweenaw Now he was encouraged to see so many water protectors participating in the Pipe Out Paddle event, as well as Michigan candidates who spoke during a press conference during the event.

"The presence of the young eagle and the round dance were very special and highlighted how the protection of water is so much part of Indigenous traditions," he noted. "It was also good to hear from some of the folks who are including water protection as a central part of their political campaigns for the governor's office or the legislature."

Native drummers and singers were an important part of the event.

Also attending from Marquette were NMU students Nathan Frischkorn and his friend, Zoe Person. Both are majoring in environmental studies, and Nate has a second major in sociology.

Nathan (Nate) Frischkorn, right, and Zoe Person made the trip from Marquette to participate in the Pipe Out Paddle protest near the Mackinac Bridge on Sept. 2. Nate also organized a march through Mackinaw City that afternoon. (Photos by Keweenaw Now unless otherwise indicated)

Frischkorn said he came to the protest because Enbridge's aging Line 5 poses a serious threat to the Great Lakes.

"I came here because the Great Lakes represent 20 percent of the world's fresh surface water, and there is a 64-year-old pipeline running through the middle of our most important natural resource," Frischkorn said. "There are a lot of problems with [Line 5]. It's deformed and missing protective coating. It's just a matter of time before it leaks."

If it leaks the economy of this billion-dollar tourism area will be destroyed, he added.

"Who's going to go to Mackinac Island if there is an oil spill here?" Frischkorn asked. "Also, from a civil rights aspect, these waters are protected by treaties. Tribal fishing rights would be affected if there was a leak. So whether you're looking at it from an environmental, economic or civil rights standpoint, this pipeline makes no sense."

Kayaks, canoes launch flotilla on the Straits

As the kayaks and canoes set out on the Straits from the beach in Michilimackinac State Park in Mackinaw City, supporters on the beach chanted and cheered them on.

Paddlers launch their kayaks and canoes, including large tribal canoes known as jiimans, in a flotilla as the 3rd annual Pipe Out Paddle protest against Enbridge's Line 5 pipeline under the Straits of Mackinac begins on Sept. 2, 2017. Supporters on the beach chant, "Shut down Line 5!" and "Mni Wiconi!" (Water is Life). (Video by Keweenaw Now)

Mary Pelton Cooper of Marquette, a member of the Upper Peninsula Environmental Coalition (UPEC) joined June Thaden of Traverse City, a member of Oil and Water Don't Mix, on the beach.

"The Upper Peninsula needs to be more connected to the northern Michigan groups," Cooper said. "The students have helped."

Mary Pelton Cooper of Marquette, left, is pictured here with June Thaden of Traverse City. Both support the activist organization, Oil and Water Don't Mix, which has been calling for the shutdown of Line 5 since 2013.*

As the flotilla of kayaks and canoes moved closer together in solidarity and raised their banners, beach supporters continued their chants.

Shannon Abbott of Grand Rapids is joined by two of the youngest protesters -- Aliazah Paquin, 6, and Isaiah Paquin, 5, of Petoskey -- in chanting on the beach. Anna Fisher of Lansing adds a shaker accompaniment to the chants. Many participants wear blue clothing to show their concern for the water.

Rachel Pressley of Madison, Wis., whose background includes water quality and geology, was visiting family members in the area and joined the protest.

"I'm here to support the shutdown of Line 5," she said. "The infrastructure is incredibly old, and it's not a question of if it fails but when."

Robin Barney Lees of Wabana, left, a member of the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians, and Merry Rose of Bliss, Mich., join the water protectors on the beach.

Robin Barney Lees of the Little Traverse Bay Band of Odawa said she was asking for prayers.

"I'm asking people to give prayers to those people that are responsible for taking out this pipeline (Enbridge)," she said. "Our prayers are to guide them because water is life and we can't live without it."

Shirley Johns, left, of the Eastern Band of Cherokee joins Sue Swain of the Traverse City-Petoskey area in displaying signs that express their concerns.

Dallas Goldtooth, a member of the Lower Sioux Nation in Minnesota and one of the Native American leaders at the Standing Rock protest against the Dakota Access Pipeline earlier this year, came from Chicago to join the Pipe Out Paddle event.

Pictured here with Dallas Goldtooth are, from left, Nadine Cook of Indian River, Mich., originally of South Dakota and the Sisseton Wahpeton Sioux tribe; Sayokla Williams of Oneida, Wis., a member of the Oneida Nation; and Sayokla's daughter, Yohnyah Williams.

"It's always been clear that Enbridge has no regard for the quality of life of the communities and waters along their pipeline routes," Goldtooth noted. "Line 5 is no different."

Later in the day, Goldtooth spoke during the press conference:

Dallas Goldtooth compares the Pipe Out Paddle event to Standing Rock, noting both are part of a larger movement of people power -- to tell a different story.

Kayaks and canoes return to the beach.

Water protectors enjoy a delicious feast for lunch, provided by tribal organizers and volunteers.

Following the lunch feast, Pipe Out Paddle organizer Jannan Cornstalk, center, of Petoskey, announces a protest march and other activities planned for the afternoon. Cornstalk is a citizen of the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians.

Preceding the press conference, jingle dress dancers from the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians are accompanied by drumming and song.

Speakers at press conference call for shutting down Line 5

Percy Bird, Jr., and Tom Shomin, councilors of the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians, spoke to the press conference audience about the importance of unity, voting and putting pressure on elected officials to make them aware of the dangers posed by Line 5.

Percy Bird, Jr., reminds members of the audience of the importance of voting for government representatives who care about the water, not those who are allies of destructive companies like Enbridge. Tom Shomin continues the message, noting the importance of speaking out, not keeping silent, about environmental concerns. "Silence kills," he says.

Another "veteran" of the protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline at Standing Rock, Lee Sprague of the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians, spoke to the audience about the need for green energy to replace the fossil fuels running through pipelines.

Lee Sprague reminds the audience they must teach younger generations to protect the water. He notes also they must have a plan for green energy in place once the battle against the pipeline is won.

Aaron Payment of Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., tribal chair of the Sault Tribe, gave an overview of his involvement in the Line 5 pipeline issue:

Aaron Payment, Sault Tribe chair, speaks about tribal opposition to Line 5 and Enbridge.

Dana Nessel, a prominent Detroit civil rights and criminal law attorney, who is a Democratic candidate for Michigan Attorney General, stated why she is running for that office and why she will call for shutting down Line 5 if elected.

Dana Nessel tells the press conference audience that the number-one priority for the office of attorney general is shutting down Line 5 because of the threats it poses to the environment.**

Another Democratic candidate from Detroit, Bill Cobbs, who is running for Michigan Governor, spoke about his commitment to working for the citizens of Michigan -- and the water, Michigan's future.

Bill Cobbs, Democratic candidate for Michigan Governor, says he will shut down Line 5 if elected.

The organizers of the Pipe Out Paddle event recommended support for Senate Bill 292, legislation that aims to shut down oil pipelines in the Great Lakes, which was introduced by State Senator Rick Jones of the 24th State Senate District, and House Resolution 51, introduced by State Rep. Yousef Rabhi of House District 53. HR 51 calls for ending the 1953 easement and shutting down Line 5.***

Andrea Pierce, one of the organizers of the Pipe Out Paddle event, who is a member of the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians and administrator of Idle No More Michigan, told Keweenaw Now she was very happy the event came together so well.

"I wanted to bring unity -- we are all fighting against the same corporation, Enbridge," Pierce said. "In bringing so many different organizations, people and Tribal Governments together, we will empower ourselves with allies. We need to foster these relationships, support each other and our events. We are Stronger Together!"

During the press conference, Andrea Pierce, an organizer of the Pipe Out Paddle event, 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.

Pierce asks that those who care about the Great Lakes contact their representatives in the Michigan House and have them support House Resolution 51, which calls for the shut down of Line 5, and contact their state senators to support Senate Bill 292.***

"The Michigan Constitution calls for us to protect the Great Lakes, and the current Governor and Attorney General are NOT doing their job!" Pierce added. "We the people must make our Government do their job!"

Editor's Notes:

* Learn about Oil and Water Don't Mix and how you can become involved by visiting their Web site.

**According to the Detroit Free Press, "Nessel, a Democrat, became the first candidate to announce a run to succeed Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette, a Midland Republican who can't run for reelection because of term limits. He's widely expected to announce a run for governor." See "Attorney Dana Nessel, known for defense of same-sex marriage, jumps into AG's race."

*** State Senator Rick Jones  and State Rep.Yousef Rabhi also spoke at the press conference; but, unfortunately we missed their talks. However, thanks to Paul DeMain of Indian Country TV, you can view videos of both legislators speaking at the Pipe Out Paddle event:
Click here for Sen. Rick Jones. For the status of SB 292 click here.
Click here for Rep. Yousef Rabhi. For the status of HR 51 click here.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

"Daughter of the Lake" film and discussion on gold mining impacts to be Sept. 20 at Michigan Tech

Daughter of the Lake, a film about indigenous resistance to gold mining impacts in the Peruvian Andes, will be shown at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2017, in Fisher 135 at Michigan Tech. Discussion will follow. (Poster courtesy Indigenous Peoples' Campaign)

HOUGHTON -- Daughter of the Lake, a documentary film about the human and environmental costs of gold mining and about indigenous resistance in the Peruvian Andes, will be screened at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 20, in Fisher Hall 135 on the Michigan Tech campus. A panel discussion will follow.

The film shows scenes from the lives and customs of the local population in the Peruvian Andes and the leading role of women in the defense of the environment. The events portrayed center around the resistance to the Conga mining project, a project managed by Yanacocha Mining Company -- owned by Newmont Mining, headquartered in Denver, and Buenaventura Mining in Peru.

Yanacocha is guilty of serious environmental crimes, including water contamination affecting crops, livestock and drinking water of the native population. Protests against the Conga project started in 2011, followed by a regional work stoppage in 2012 and peasant and student protest marches in 2013.

Following the screening, the director of this documentary, Ernesto Cabellos, will join the discussion live via Skype from Lima, Peru. Ken Fish, a representative from the Menominee tribe in Wisconsin, will also be joining the panel discussion. The Menominee tribe is presently facing a fight against the Back 40 open-pit gold mining project in the Upper Peninsula -- planned for an area only 150 feet from the Menominee River, which forms the state line with Wisconsin.*

This event is sponsored by The Indigenous Peoples' Day Campaign. It is free and open to the public.

* Editor's Note: For some background on the Back 40 mine, see this recent article: "Wisconsin residents push back against mine looming just over state line."

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

International foods, talent, fun at 2017 Parade of Nations Sept. 16

A large crowd enjoys the great variety of international foods during the Multicultural Festival following the 2016 Parade of Nations in the Dee Stadium in Houghton. This year's Parade of Nations will be Saturday, Sept. 16, 2017. (2016 photos by Keweenaw Now)

By Jennifer Donovan, Michigan Tech Director of News and Media Relations
Posted Sept. 5, 2017, on Michigan Tech News
Reprinted with permission

2016 photos by Keweenaw Now

HOUGHTON -- Foods from around the world -- including dishes from Iran, Indonesia, China, India, Ghana, Turkey, Nepal, Bangladesh, Africa and Ukraine -- are on the menu at this year’s Parade of Nations Multicultural Festival.

The Multicultural Festival, starting at noon Saturday, Sept. 16, at the Dee Stadium, follows the Parade.

International entertainment is also on tap, with the Kivajat Finnish folk dancers, belly dancing by 47 North, a Bollywood extravaganza performed by Michigan Technological University’s Indian Student Association, a Keweenaw Bay Indian Community performance, the Michigan Tech Dance Team, the Maple Sugar Folk and singer Jan Arnold.

Dancers and drummers from the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community (KBIC) perform during the 2016 Multicultural Festival. They will perform again this year.

A crafts tent will be outside the Dee, and the upstairs ballroom in the stadium will feature quieter seating for diners and a series of Gappa talks by international students from Michigan Tech. Gappa is a Hindi word meaning "chit-chat," a chance for Multicultural Festival guests to learn about and interact informally with international students.

Members of Michigan Tech's Indian Student Association perform a lively dance during the 2016 Multicultural Festival. They will perform again this year in Dee Stadium.

Headline Act -- China Gold

This year’s headline act is China Gold, a martial arts-based performance featuring lighting, music, choreography and stage effects highlighting feats of athleticism and gymnastic prowess. The performance begins at 7:30 p.m. at the Rozsa Center.

Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for children and no charge for students who have paid the Experience Tech fee. The headline act is sponsored in part by the Rozsa Center for the Performing Arts and the MUB Board.

(Inset poster courtesy Rozsa Center)

The theme of this year’s Parade of Nations is "Think Globally, Celebrate Locally."

Parade begins at 11 a.m. in Hancock

Representatives of many countries line up for the Parade on the Quincy Green, near the Finnish American Heritage Center in Hancock. Participants from Turkey are pictured here with the university mascots -- Michigan Tech's Huskey and Finlandia's Lion -- in preparation for the 2016 Parade of Nations.

The Parade, featuring floats and flags of more than 60 nations, begins at 11 a.m. in Hancock and crosses the Portage Lift Bridge, proceeding through downtown Houghton to the Dee Stadium. This year’s parade marshal is Rick Buis Stanitis, director of Canterbury House.

Two representatives of Argentina, Gustavo Bourdieu and friend Sara, march in the 2016 Parade of Nations as it heads from Hancock to the Portage Lift Bridge and Houghton.

Parade goers will have a chance to win a Chicago Getaway package including airfare and hotel accommodations for two and a "Go Chicago" card good for three attractions. To enter, all you have to do is hold up an "I love Parade of Nations" sign during the parade. The winner will be announced at the Multicultural Festival following the parade.

Parade of Nations T-shirts are for sale for $20 at the International Programs and Services online store. Donations to the event can also be made at that site.

This is the 28th annual Parade of Nations, a celebration of the international heritage and multi-cultural essence of the community. Parade of Nations is sponsored by Michigan Tech, Finlandia University, and community businesses and residents.

More photos from the 2016 Parade of Nations:

Young KBIC dancers wear colorful regalia for their 2016 performance in the Dee Stadium. Watch for them again this year!

Local residents Barbara Quenzi, left, and Joanne Thomas carry the flag and banner for Croatia, the country of their ancestors.

These lovely young ladies remind us of our southern neighbor.
 
Huskies get ready to march in the parade.

...and here are just a few more of the many countries represented by our international students:




Monday, September 11, 2017

Houghton County Board to consider Request for Proposals (RFP) for Jail Addition design

HOUGHTON -- A request for proposals (RFP) for a preliminary design of the Houghton County Jail Addition is on the agenda for the Houghton County Board Meeting, to be held at 5 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 12, on the fifth floor of the Houghton County Courthouse.

The Houghton County Board of Commissioners is seeking bids for the creation of a floor plan, 3-D drawing and cost estimate, to be presented to the voters of Houghton County, for the construction of an addition to and the remodeling of the existing Houghton County Jail. Plans are to include the following:
  • An addition to house 15-20 female inmates and 15-20 minimum, 15-20 medium and 15-20 maximum security male inmates. The addition is to be located on the space currently occupied by the parking deck adjacent to the Houghton  County Courthouse.
  • Renovation of the existing jail space into a 30-bed dormitory style facility, including showers and toilets, to accommodate prisoners eligible for work release.
  • The demolition of the existing parking structure including the records storage facility under the parking deck.
  • Relocation of the generator currently located in the records storage  facility.
  • Relocation of the Probate Court air conditioning unit currently located under the parking deck.
  • Paving the vacant lot, across Dodge Street from the Courthouse, to replace the number of parking places lost with the demolition of the parking structure
The current courtyard space on the Courthouse’s south side may also be included in the footprint of the new structure.

Secure passage must be allowed for the transporting of inmates from the proposed addition into the District and Circuit Courts located on the third floor of the Courthouse.

Design must meet all applicable standards for county jails as set forth by the Michigan Department of Corrections and the United States Department of Justice including day rooms, space for inmate programs and services and attorney meeting space.

The successful bidder will provide the following:
  • A floor plan of the remodeled jail area and the addition.
  • A three-dimensional drawing of the addition, the Houghton County Sheriff’s Office/Jail and the Houghton County Courthouse.
  • A cost estimate for demolition, construction of the addition and renovation of the existing jail.
A mandatory walk through will be held at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 18, on the fifth floor of the Courthouse. Bids must be submitted to the Houghton County Controller’s Office, 401 East Houghton Avenue, Houghton, Mich., by noon on Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2018. Bidders must include a statement of qualifications regarding their experience with designing similar structures.

District 3 County Commissioner Anton Pintar has requested that the following items be added to the RFP:

1.    District Court located in the front of the First  Floor of the Jail Addition
2.    A room for Attorney-Client private discussion
3.    Cells for 17 year olds out of earshot of those 18 and older.
4.    Exercise Area

Eric Forsberg, Houghton County Controller office administrator, stated, "I included the paragraph in the RFP regarding the need to meet applicable Department of Corrections and Department of Justice standards as a catch-all to insure inclusion of those items with the final plans. Whoever gets awarded this bid will definitely have to become knowledgeable with those standards. The District Court space of course would need to be added to the RFP."

According to Commissioner Pintar, the design for the Jail Addition presently posted on the Houghton County Web site is not up-to-date -- thus the need for additional details in the RFP.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

NOTICE: MDEQ to hold Public Hearing on Eagle East Mining Permit Amendment Proposed Decision Sept. 25; comment period extends through Oct. 23, 2017

MARQUETTE, LANSING -- The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ), Oil, Gas, and Minerals Division (OGMD) is holding public hearing from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 25, 2017, at Westwood High School auditorium, 300 Westwood Drive, Ishpeming, Michigan 49849, to hear comments regarding the MDEQ’s proposed decision to grant Eagle Mine LLC’s request to mine the Eagle East mineral resource (Eagle East). The MDEQ will also accept written comment on the proposed decision during the hearing and following the hearing until close of the public comment period at 5 p.m. on October 23, 2017.

Eagle Mine LLC, 4547 County Road 601, Champion, MI 49814, submitted a request for approval to amend their Mining Permit MP 01 2007, issued under Part 632, Nonferrous Metallic Mineral Mining, of the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act, 1994 PA 451, as amended, to mine Eagle East. Eagle East is located approximately 1.2 miles to the east of Eagle Mine, commencing at a depth of 3,117 feet beneath the surface, with proposed access ramp and deposit within Sections 11 and 12, T50N-R29W, Michigamme Township, Marquette County. The existing surface facilities at Eagle Mine will continue to be utilized to support the proposed operations.

At the hearing, participants will have an opportunity to fill out attendance cards at the entrance of the auditorium to indicate whether they intend to provide oral comment during the hearing. Following opening remarks at the start of the hearing, participants will be called to speak in the order of cards received. Presentations will be limited to three minutes. Opportunities for additional time to speak may be offered if time allows.*

Send written comments to DEQ Eagle East Permit Amendment, Office of Oil, Gas, and Minerals, 1504 West Washington Street, Marquette, MI 49855, or via email to DEQ-Mining-Comments@michigan.gov, including "Eagle East Proposed Decision" as the subject.

The Mining Permit Application Amendment, proposed decision, and other pertinent documents may be accessed on the following web page(s): http://www.michigan.gov/deq/0,4561,7-135-3311_18442-359902--,00.html under "Eagle East Permit Amendment." To obtain more information on the application for amendment, contact Joe Maki at 906-250-4015.

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.

* EDITOR'S NOTE: See our recent article concerning Eagle East, this MDEQ proposed decision and the June 8, 2017, public meeting on Eagle East.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Houghton County Planning Commission accepting applications for 3 openings

NOTICE:
TO: ALL INTERESTED CITIZENS

The Houghton County Board of Commissioners is accepting applications for three (3) open positions on the following Board:
HOUGHTON COUNTY PLANNING COMMISSION
Position one is for an individual to represent the following fields: Agriculture, Forestry and Land Use
Position two is for an individual to represent the following: Education.
Position three is for an individual to represent the following: Environment.
Applicants must provide documentation with their applications regarding their qualifications to represent the group that they are applying to represent.
Applications are available at the Controller's Office, Houghton County Courthouse, 401 E. Houghton Avenue, Houghton, MI or online by clicking the Board Application link.*
Deadline for to submit an application is 4 p.m. Wednesday, September 6, 2017, to the Controller's Office.
This is a volunteer position.

Jennifer Lorenz, Houghton County Clerk

* Click here to see this Notice on the Houghton County Web page for Employment and click on the Board Application link.

Monday, August 28, 2017

DEQ issues proposed decision to grant Eagle East amendment to Eagle Mine Part 632 permit despite public opposition

By Michele Bourdieu

Kathleen Heideman of the Upper Peninsula Environmental Coalition's Mining Action Group asks questions about the proposed permit amendment for mining Eagle East during the June 8, 2017, Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) public meeting at the Westwood High School auditorium in Ishpeming. Since that meeting, after receiving public comments up to July 20, 2017, the DEQ has announced a proposed decision to grant Lundin Mining Co. the amendment to Eagle Mine's Part 632 mining permit. (Photo by Keweenaw Now)

MARQUETTE, LANSING -- The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) announced on Aug. 17, 2017, that it is issuing a proposed decision to grant a request submitted by Eagle Mine LLC (Eagle) to amend their mining permit for Eagle Mine (MP 01 2007) in order to complete the decline needed to access and to mine the Eagle East mineral resource located about a mile from the Eagle Mine (an underground copper and nickel mine) in Michigamme Township, Marquette County, Michigan.*

This announcement follows a public meeting held on June 8, 2017, during which the public was invited to ask questions and make comments on the Eagle East Amendment application. Following that meeting, the public comment period was extended to July 20, 2017. Since then the DEQ still has not posted responses to public comments.

Kathleen Heideman of the Upper Peninsula Environmental Coalition's (UPEC's) Mining Action Group, who asked many questions during the June 8 hearing, reacted strongly to the proposed decision announcement.

"Outrageous! The DEQ's proposed decision to approve the Eagle East permit amendment defies common sense, and is an insult to 'public participation,'" Heideman said when she learned of the proposed decision this past week. "The DEQ's 'preliminary decision' document is dated 8-17-17 yet there has been no stakeholder notification -- no notice provided to the Upper Peninsula Environmental Stakeholders Group which regularly meets with the DEQ to discuss mining concerns, and no announcement sent to those of us who submitted written comments on the Eagle East proposal."

This aerial photo shows the Eagle Mine in the background and an area in the foreground without trees but "planted" with drill rigs and a new sand pit in preparation for mining the Eagle East mineral resource, which is about 3,000 feet below the surface. According to the Upper Peninsula Environmental Coalition's Mining Action Group, Commercial Forest (CFR) lands in the Eagle East area are posted with signs warning "NO HUNTING" (men at work). This appears to be a violation of the CFR program, in which taxes are drastically reduced on CFR-enrolled lands in return for environmental stewardship of a renewable timber resource and public access is allowed for hunting and fishing. (May 2017 photo © and courtesy Jeremiah Eagle Eye)

The announcement of the proposed decision states as follows:

"The DEQ has conducted a detailed and comprehensive review of the Eagle East Amendment Request and supplemental information submitted by Eagle, reviewed the current mining permit conditions and Environmental Impact Assessment as they relate to the request, and reviewed and considered public comments that DEQ has received thus far. Based on the information available, the DEQ has determined that the application meets the requirements for approval under Part 632, and that the terms and conditions set forth in mining permit MP 01 2007 are valid and applicable to the development of Eagle East, with the following provisions:

1.    Cost estimates for reclamation activities associated with mining Eagle East shall be included in the updated financial assurance calculation scheduled for 2018.
2.    Upon final approval of the amendment request, the reference to 'ore body' in mining permit MP 01 2007 shall include both Eagle and the Eagle East mineral resource."*

The Mining Action Group (MAG) met the July 20 deadline for comments, sending the DEQ a 28-page document with extensive comments on the Eagle East application. In their introduction, MAG states that, since June 2016, Lundin Mining Co. "has been fast-tracking the development of an underground ramp and tunnel system intended to connect their (permitted) Eagle Mine orebody and surface facility with the as yet unpermitted 'Eagle East orebody.'"**

MAG points out that the company began construction in July 2016 without designating Eagle East as an ore body, thus acting as if it didn't need a permit or permit modifications.

In his presentation on Eagle East at the June 8 DEQ public meeting, Joe Maki, DEQ geologist and mining specialist in the Upper Peninsula Division of Oil, Gas, and Minerals, who is in charge of the Part 632 mining permit, stated the DEQ was reviewing the amendment application, which DEQ received in March 2017, just as if it were a new permit application:

Joe Maki, Michigan DEQ geologist, presents an introduction to Eagle Mine's application for an amendment to their Part 632 mining permit for Eagle East, a new mining project near the Eagle Mine, during the June 8, 2017, public meeting on Eagle East. Upper Peninsula DEQ officials Steve Casey and Melanie Humphrey are also present at the hearing to answer questions and take comments from the audience. (Videos by Keweenaw Now)

Maki told Keweenaw Now on Aug. 24, 2017, that he believes the public has not understood the process of reviewing this amendment application and he hopes to clear up their "confusion" in his responses to the public comments.

"We're still working on those (responses). We are going to respond to the comments we've received so far," Maki said. "It seems like people didn't understand the process."

The DEQ will soon post an announcement for a public hearing on the proposed decision and a 28-day public comment period to follow the hearing. Part 632 requires the DEQ to issue a final decision on the request within 28 days following the close of the written public comment period. However, the final decision date may be extended if the DEQ requires additional information from Eagle based on questions raised by public comment. 

Maki said he plans to complete the responses to the previous public comments received by July 20 and post those responses on the DEQ Web site before the coming hearing.

In their detailed comments, MAG points out past failures of the DEQ to protect the environment (e.g., in the Flint water crisis) and the public's concerns about Eagle East's potential environmental impacts not covered in the proposed amendment.

"How many additional ore bodies could be connected to the existing Eagle Mine facility?" MAG asks. "How many times can the Part 632 mining permit be revised? Why does Part 632 fail to clearly define a 'mine' as the facility created to 'define' and extract a single ore deposit? Part 632 says nothing about connecting multiple ore deposits, or using one portal indefinitely, via amendment."**

During the June 8 DEQ public meeting, Jeffery Loman, a member of the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community (KBIC) and a former federal regulator in Alaska, asked a similar question on multiple projects and questioned Lundin's financial responsibility assurances.

During the June 8, 2017, public meeting on the Eagle East mining amendment, Jeffery Loman, a member of the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community (KBIC) asks DEQ officials about Eagle's financial assurances, further ore deposits and the tentative 2023 mine closure date.

In the introduction to their comments, MAG states the reasons for their objections to the amendment:

"Beyond the issues of the company fast-tracking an unpermitted Eagle East, and state and federal regulators' apparent lack of concern with this cart-before-the-horse problem, our comments address the assertion that Eagle East is merely an expansion of Eagle Mine, which will not affect 'cumulative environmental impacts' and as such its operation can be handled by the existing infrastructure of Eagle Mine. So goes the argument that the built-in capacity of Eagle Mine, whether it be electrical, waste rock storage, underground ventilation, dewatering, and related issues, has already anticipated the demands of a new mine such as Eagle East, and that the proposed Eagle East amendment represents a collection of minor changes. We disagree.

"In our comments we question whether the differences between the two mine sites have been adequately considered, whether the environment is adequately protected, whether the law governing sulfide mining (Part 632) is being properly interpreted and enforced by state regulators, and whether some of the original, persistent concerns about the Eagle Mine continue to go unaddressed, despite their direct implications for this amendment request."**

Air Quality concerns

During the June 8 meeting, MAG's Kathleen Heideman asked several questions about air quality:

During the DEQ's June 8 public meeting on the Eagle East mining permit amendment application, Kathleen Heideman of the Mining Action Group asks questions about air quality -- why Eagle is not applying for an air quality permit. Joe Maki, DEQ geologist, replies, noting he will communicate with the DEQ's Air Quality Division (AQD).

In MAG's comments on air emission controls, they challenge the company's claim that they do not need to apply for a modified Clean Air Act permit for Eagle East, noting that particulate matter (pm) emissions from blasting for the Eagle East tunnel will create a greater amount of waste rock than that created by the Eagle Mine. MAG states further that Eagle East has higher grades of nickel and copper than Eagle -- and other metals of concern.

"It is not clear that air emissions will be 'unchanged' as Eagle Mine staff told the AQD (Air Quality Division) -- and there is no monitoring regime in place to verify Lundin’s claim," MAG states.**

Backfill and water issues

Representing the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community (KBIC) at the June 8 meeting on Eagle East, geologist Chuck Brumleve cited the tribe's concerns about "tight backfill," migration of groundwater to the surface, and the need for more monitoring wells:

During the June 8 DEQ meeting, geologist Chuck Brumleve brings up several concerns of the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community.

Brumleve noted concerns about reactive waste rock that can pose a danger if mine water migrates to the surface after closure of the mine. He also pointed out that the amendment indicates Eagle and Eagle East are all one mine under one permit, which indicates that concerns about the Eagle Mine, including the Crown Pillar (rock stability issues) and financial assurances, are relevant to Eagle East.

Brumleve also reminded the DEQ of the Native Americans' philosophy of taking care of resources for future generations. He said he finds that many people judge these mining projects on financial profits or how nice they look -- not on how they will affect the next generation.

"We seem to be determined to leave no resources for the next generations," he said.

Rock Stability

While references to Eagle Mine's Crown Pillar, or rock ceiling, (which, according to experts, could collapse if, as Eagle Mine has requested, more ore is removed from the very highest levels of the Eagle Mine) and a recent "Fall of Ground" (or underground collapse) incident were included in Joe Maki's presentation, he and Steve Casey, DEQ Upper Peninsula district coordinator and meeting moderator, postponed questions on them until the end of the meeting, discouraging speakers from relating them to Eagle East.

One of those who was silenced when he attempted to comment on the Crown Pillar was Horst Schmidt, president of UPEC.

"It appears Mr. Casey is now dictating what speakers can and cannot say during hearings, such as this one," Schmidt commented after the meeting. "They are now more and more pro forma events to meet the requirements of the regulations. Form over substance. Unfortunately an archaic legal doctrine still remains in force that says the area below the surface belongs to the state and can be mined against the owner's wishes. The governor's policy explicitly states the DEQ and mining companies are partners.  Hardly what one expects from an agency allegedly looking after the public's interest. What was OK when Michigan became a state with 60,000 residents doesn't work when almost 10 million people are dependent on clean air, water and land."

In their comments to DEQ, MAG calls the DEQ staff's avoidance of questions on rock stability during the June 8 meeting a First Amendment issue: "Maki quickly announced that this significant Eagle Mine issue -- rock stability -- was not pertinent to the Eagle Mine permit amendment under consideration. During the public participation portion of the Public Meeting, individuals who tried asking questions about geological stability were told to stop talking (DEQ: "let me stop you right there, we’re not here to discuss that issue"). In doing so, the DEQ failed to respect the First Amendment rights of all who wished to speak during the Public Meeting. At the same time, the DEQ patiently entertained numerous nontechnical statements made about jobs, although 'Social Benefit' is not analyzed in the permit review process. It does a disservice to concerned citizens if the public is not educated by DEQ concerning the technical details and potential environmental impacts of a proposed permit amendment."***

MAG also notes in their comments a joint letter sent with Freshwater Future and signed by several environmental stakeholders to the DEQ and Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette concerning the need for transparency in the case of the August 2016 "Fall of Ground" incident, which the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA), called "substantial," designating it a "large block failure."

During the June 8 meeting, Nathan Frischkorn, a student at Northern Michigan University, read a letter from Jack Parker -- retired mining engineer, geologist and specialist in rock mechanics -- who predicted in 2010 that Eagle Mine would collapse:

Nathan Frischkorn, a student at Northern Michigan University, reads a letter from rock mechanics specialist Jack Parker, who expresses strong opposition to the Eagle Mine and Eagle East.****

Jobs vs. Environmental Impacts

Among the defenders of Eagle Mine and Eagle East at the June 8 meeting was Alex Kofsky of Accelerate U.P., who praised Eagle Mine for creating jobs. Sara Culver, an opponent of the mine, brings up the subject of cleanup and Superfund sites:

During the June 8, 2017, public meeting on a DEQ permit amendment for Eagle East, Alex Kofsky of Accelerate U.P. says he is supportive of the permit because of job creation by Eagle Mine in the Marquette, MI, area. Sara Culver expresses her concern about pollution and cleanup.

Joe Derocha, Marquette County Commissioner and former Humboldt Township supervisor, spoke about his positive experiences with Eagle Mine and their cleanup of the Humboldt Mill site. He added his concern about the Great Lakes and the importance of holding the company and the DEQ to environmental standards.

Marquette County Commissioner Joe Derocha speaks in favor of Eagle Mine's record during the June 8 DEQ meeting. He mentions jobs and tax revenue benefiting the county in addition to Eagle's support of local schools, including improvements to the Westwood High School auditorium.

David Allen, UPEC vice president -- silenced when he attempted to state concerns about Eagle Mine's Crown Pillar (which, he noted, is under the Salmon Trout River) -- spoke at the meeting about several environmental issues. John Koski of the Champion Planning Commission stated his approval of the Humboldt Mill and asked for more information on the future of these mining projects.

David Allen, UPEC vice president, comments on water issues during the June 8 DEQ meeting. John Koski of the Champion Planning Commission states support for the Eagle Mine's Humboldt Mill, located near Champion, and asks for geological information.

Carla Champagne of Big Bay stated why she believes the application should be for a new mining permit, not an amendment to Eagle Mine's Part 632 permit. Tony Retaskie, executive director of the Upper Peninsula Construction Council, stated his support for the Eagle East amendment application because of job opportunities for construction workers:

Carla Champagne of Big Bay cites several environmental concerns about Eagle East, concluding that it is a new mine needing a new permit, not an amendment. Tony Retaskie, executive director of the Upper Peninsula Construction Council, commends Eagle Mine for their responsible practices and expresses support for the Eagle East amendment application.

Chauncey Moran, riverkeeper for the Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve, gave several reasons why Eagle Mine and Eagle East are two different ore bodies and two different ecological sites that should not be covered by only one permit and an amendment. He challenged the DEQ to adhere to the meaning of the Part 632 mining permit given to Eagle Mine -- one mine for one ore body with particular characteristics. Moran also reminded the DEQ that the Eagle Mine permit allowed the mine portal to be drilled under Eagle Rock, a sacred site for the Anishinaabe people.

During the June 8 public meeting, Chauncey Moran, Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve riverkeeper, questions adding the proposed amendment for Eagle East to the Eagle Mine's Part 632 permit. 

MAG's 28-page comment document also cites technical information to substantiate their concerns about rock stability and subsidence monitoring, remediation (including flooding of the Eagle Mine) and limestone amendment of waste rock, the need for uranium monitoring, acid rock drainage, air emission controls, light and noise pollution, and power requirements.

MAG concludes the amendment application for Eagle East lacks a complete analysis of the project's cumulative environmental impacts and does not meet the requirements of Part 632.

Notes:

* Click here to access a link to the DEQ announcement of the proposed decision. Click here to access the amendment application.

** Click here for the comments on the Eagle East permit amendment that UPEC's Mining Action Group submitted to DEQ on July 20, 2017.

*** See the Mining Action Group's May 25, 2017 article, "Eagle Mine Buries Underground Collapse."

**** See our Dec. 6, 2010, article, "Mining expert Jack Parker says Eagle Mine likely to collapse."