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Jan 30

Opposition to the Back Forty Project Letter

January 29, 2017


MDEQ Back Forty Comments
Office of Oil, Gas, and Minerals
1504 West Washington Street
Marquette, Mi 49855
DEQ-Mining-Comments@michigan.gov
RE: Opposition to the Back Forty Project


Dear Sir/Madam:
We are writing on behalf of the Great Lakes Council of the International
Federation of Fly Fishers. The Great Lakes Council is the voice of fly anglers in
Michigan, Indiana and Northwest Ohio. We strongly oppose development of the
Back Forty Project proposed by Aquila Mining. An open pit sulfide ore mine has
the potential to pollute both the Menominee River and Lake Michigan, destroy a
pristine fishery, and place Michigan’s citizens at risk. The risks are simply too
great to allow a project like this to proceed. Our objections include:


The Risk of Pollution and Damage to the Menominee River, Lake Michigan
and the Fishery
Michigan is blessed with the world’s greatest supply of fresh
water through our Great Lakes and is home to some of the world’s iconic rivers
and streams. The risks of damaging the river, the local environment, and Lake
Michigan are unacceptably high. The sulfide wastes generated by this open pit
mine will be difficult to contain and if they leak into the river benthic and aquatic
life will be destroyed and Lake Michigan will also be polluted. Also, the mine’s
wastewater discharges (for which there is still not a permit) are likely to damage
the Menominee and its aquatic life.
Moreover, The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has been working on the Lake
Sturgeon Passage program with the Departments of Natural Resources from

Michigan and Wisconsin and a number of other groups. This $7,000,000 project
will fail if sulfide wastes leak into the river.


Economic Implications-
The negative economic impact this project could have
on Michigan’s recreational economy should be considered. According to the
Michigan Department of Natural Resources, anglers spend in excess of $2 billion
a year in trip related expenses and equipment. Moreover, our state’s 1.1 million
licensed anglers generate $18 million in revenues in license fees and attract $11
million in federal funds for fish and habitat conservation. We cannot comprehend
why our state leaders would experiment with mines that hold the potential to
damage these irreplaceable natural resources and place our sport fishery and
tourism industry at risk.


Problems with Permits and the Permitting Process-
Concerns have been
expressed that the DEQ has violated its own regulations in granting the two
permits that have been approved. Critics state that permit applications have
been incomplete, contradictory, and that Aquila has made different statements
regarding the mine’s purposes to different groups. Suffice it to say, there are
numerous reasons to suggest that DEQ has not acted in the interests of the
citizens of Michigan. Given the state’s poor record on water issues, we would
expect the highest level of vigilance in regard to this project.


These are just some of the problems associated with this mining proposal. It is
time for the DEQ and other Michigan policy makers to step up and represent the
interests of Michigan’s citizens and the state’s invaluable water resources. Stop
the development of this mine now.

 

Most sincerely,
(Signed Electronically)
(Signed Electronically)
Dennis O’Brien David Peterson

President Vice President for Conservation

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