Sixth Circuit Rejects Challenge to Eagle Mine

Here are the materials in Huron Mountain Club v. United States Army Corps of Engineers:

CA6 Unpublished Opinion

Huron Mountain Brief

Federal Brief

Kennecott Eagle Minerals Company Brief

Huron Mountain Reply

An excerpt:

Plaintiff-Appellant Huron Mountain Club (“HMC”) appeals the district court’s denial of its motion for injunctive relief, which sought to enjoin Kennecott Eagle Minerals Company (“Kennecott”) from constructing and operating the Eagle Mine (“Eagle Mine” or “the Mine”), a nickel and copper mine in Marquette, Michigan, and compel the United States Army Corps of Engineers1 (the “Corps”) to “administer” the federal permitting programs under the Rivers and Harbors Act (“RHA”), 33 U.S.C. § 403, and the Clean Water Act
(“CWA”), 33 U.S.C. § 1344. We AFFIRM.

Lower court materials here.

KBIC, Eagle Rock, and Kennecott Mine in Scientific American

The article is Part 5 in a series called “Pollution, Poverty and People of Color”

“A Michigan Tribe Battles a Global Corporation”:

An abundant resource, this water has nourished a small Native American community for hundreds of years. So 10 years ago, when an international mining company arrived near the shores of Lake Superior to burrow a mile under the Earth and pull metals out of ore, the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community of the Lake Superior Band of Chippewa had to stand for its rights and its water.

And now, as bulldozers raze the land and the tunnel creeps deeper, the tribe still hasn’t backed down.

“The indigenous view on water is that it is a sacred and spiritual entity,” said Jessica Koski, mining technical assistant for the Keweenaw Bay community. “Water gives us and everything on Earth life.”

The Keweenaw Bay Indians are fighting for their clean water, sacred sites and traditional way of life as Kennecott Eagle Minerals inches towards copper and nickel extraction, scheduled to begin in 2014.

It’s a good longreads article. Our previous coverage, including the multitude of lawsuits the article mentions, is here.

Federal Court Suit Filed to Stop Mining Activities in Northern Michigan/Upper Peninsula Mine

Here are the materials in Huron Mountain Club v. United States Army Corps of Engineers (W.D. Mich.):

Huron Mountain Club Complaint

Huron Mountain Club Brief in Support of PI Motion

Here is the Interlochen Public Radio coverage of the suit. An excerpt:

A private club in the Upper Peninsula has filed a federal lawsuit suit to stop the construction of a new mine in Marquette County. The nickel and copper mine, owned by Kennecott Eagle Minerals, has received permits from the state. But the Huron Mountain Club says the U.S. Army Corps needs to review the project to make sure it doesn’t violate the Clean Water Act.

The club owns nearly 20,000 acres of forest downstream from the mine on the Salmon Trout River. The lawsuit says sulfuric acid produced by sulfide mining could pollute the river. And the club is “horror-struck” by the prospect of the watershed collapsing because part of the mine will be dug directly underneath it. The lawsuit also says the federal government needs to consider the potential for damage to Eagle Rock, a site near the entrance to the mine that is sacred to American Indians.

Kennecott says the mine has been extensively reviewed and survived multiple legal challenges going back to 2006. Eagle Mine has been under construction since 2010 and the company says it is 75 percent built.

EPA Visits Eagle Rock

From ICT, via Pechanga:

BIG BAY, Mich. – As the top government official who oversees Great Lakes water quality stood on the edge of sacred Eagle Rock, overlooking a pristine expanse of the Yellow Dog Plains, she gained a better understanding about why the state-owned land is sacred to Michigan’s Ojibwa.

“I very much understand what their concerns are – and that is one of the things we are considering as we moved forward on this,” said Tinka Hyde, Water Division director for Environmental Protection Region 5. “We realize that Eagle Rock is of cultural and religious importance to the tribe.”

Hyde was one of three EPA regional bosses from Chicago and the agency’s tribal liaison for Michigan who were given a tour of the area May 13 by officials from the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community during a two-day visit to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

Members of numerous tribes including Ojibwa, Cherokee and Lakota had been camping at the base of Eagle Rock since April 23 in hopes of preventing Kennecott Eagle Minerals from building a nickel and copper sulfide mine – named the Eagle Project. At the company’s request, state and local police officers raided the encampment May 27 arresting two campers.

Under federal treaties, Ojibwa have rights to hunt, fish and gather on the state of Michigan owned land. The state leased the land to Kennecott with the understanding that all permits must be approved.

Hyde said any ruling the EPA makes about the withdrawal of state and federal permit applications by Kennecott subsidiaries will be based solely on environmental protection laws, primarily the 1974 Safe Drinking Water Act.

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Michigan DEQ Approval of Upper Peninsula Sulfide Mine — Press Release

From MDEQ:

DEQ Announces Decision on Kennecott Mine

Contact: Robert McCann (517) 241-7397
Agency: Environmental Quality
December 14, 2007

The Department of Environmental Quality announced today its decision to approve a series of permits to the Kennecott Eagle Minerals Company to conduct mining operations at the proposed Eagle Project Mine near Marquette. The department’s decision follows a period of extensive review by the DEQ of public comments and supporting information to determine whether Kennecott’s proposal met the strict standards contained within Michigan’s air quality, groundwater, and mining laws. The DEQ is required to make its decision based solely on whether a proposal meets those standards.

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