Eagle Mine permit assault on regulation

Michael Williams

The problems with Eagle Mine’s deregulation are multi-faceted in scope. There are issues associated with religious freedom, corporate accountability, environmental destruction and private-public collusion.

Michael Williams
Michael Williams

Every one of these reasons should motivate students and the academic community broadly to attend the permit hearing Tuesday March 25.

Deregulating Lundin Mining’s restrictions means approving further pollution in the Upper Peninsula’s fragile water supplies. Lundin has been given latitude to report contamination on their own terms, rather than terms which fit public necessities for safe water. Of these contaminants, uranium and vanadium (potential carcinogens), are included in a laundry list of contaminants which the company can release.

The new permit exemplifies the tendency of state and public powers to accommodate corporate hearts’ desires. That the original permit was already broken should predicate prosecution and suspension of activity, not tax-funded compliance.

Profoundly ironic, Shady Grove Farm in Gwinn was brought to court (albeit, unsuccessfully) for potential pollution by way of chicken shit in the lake adjacent to their farm.

A product which biodegrades and poses minimal threat to the ecosystem is dangerous to the community, but mining companies regularly violating permitted contaminant levels are excusable.

This new permit is the MDEQ’s way of publicly reiterating their malleable nature. They are announcing their position as complicit with private interests which express no hesitancy to damage the Yellow Dog Watershed permanently. The MDEQ exists now as Lundin’s avenue for degrading environmental restrictions and therefore ecological health.

Jeffrey Loman is a Keweenaw Bay Indian Community (KBIC) member and former federal oil regulator. As a member of KBIC, Eagle Rock (the mine’s location) is a sacred place with religious significance for Ojibwa people.

According to Loman, there are approximately 500,000 existing water violations in the United States from the last five years. A mere fraction have paid fines.

At a SWUP meeting this week, Loman emphasized that taxpayers should demand that government officials be “lockstep” with public opinions. The only way for that to happen (or for a democracy to function correctly) is for the public to engage with the powers accountable to us.

Lundin is dependent on a public that is misinformed, disengaged and unintelligent. I see an entirely different public at SWUP meetings.

This Monday March 24, a meeting will be held in West Science for students to learn what is proposed in the new permit.

As for the permit meeting itself, refer to this issue’s front page story for details.

Students should come out in droves to oppose the approval of this new permit. Voicing concerns  at this meeting is about the only way to ensure that the Upper Peninsula’s future is not characterized by carcinogenic water.