Letters to the EditorIssue Date: June 6, 2019
A letter, co-written by Wisconsin Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Green Bay ), and by two Wisconsin state legislators, asks Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources secretary Preston Cole to review the permits regarding Aquila Resources' proposed Back Forty Mine.
Rep. Jeff Mursau (R-Crivitz), and Joel Kitchens (R-Sturgeon Bay), also co-authored the letter, which urges Cole to prioritize reviewing the mine's permits.
"We ask you to lead in communicating concerns about the mine's threat to our waters and stand strong in defending those waters," the letter states. "Finally, we ask that you keep us apprised of new developments and changes impacting the mine or its permits."
Aquila Resources, of Toronto, Canada, is proposing to extract gold, silver, zinc and copper in an open-pit sulfide mine in close proximity to the Menominee River 44 miles upstream from its mouth.
"We wish to express our continued concerns regarding the proposed Back Forty mine," the letter states. "Our meeting with the Department of Natural Resources staff provided useful information on the status of the permits, and we thank you for affording us the opportunity to meet. We were encouraged to learn of WDNR's ongoing conversations with Michigan's Department of Environ-mental Quality, and respectfully request these discussions continue throughout the duration of the permitting process," the letter said.
According to the letter, Wisconsin's water resources, from Lake Michigan to its rivers and streams, support the health of communities, economies and livelihoods. "The location of the Back Forty Mine's sulfide open pit, only 50 yards from the banks of the Menominee River, is of great concern to us," the letter states. "This river, which serves as the boundary between Northeast Wisconsin and Michigan's Upper Peninsula, flows south through Marinette to the bay of Green Bay and into Lake Michigan. Along the way it serves as a drinking water source for many, including the residents of Marinette. As you know, mining is a hazardous operation that comes with threats of leaks, spills and overflows. While the mining company, Aquila Resources, has proposed fixtures to reduce the possibility of accidents, grave risks to the Menominee River remain."
The letter concludes by thanking Cole " the state's top defender of its freshwater and natural resources - in advance for his consideration of their requests. "We appreciate your efforts to ensure Wisconsin residents and industries have access to clean, safe water through your "Year of Clean Water' campaign. We look forward to working with you to protect our most precious natural resources," the letter states.
Coalition to Save the Menominee River
I recently went on an Honor Flight with a group of 74 veterans on a flight to Washington DC at no cost to the veterans. We were there to see the memorials dedicated to the fallen soldiers of each service branch. We also visited the Vietnam Wall, the Iwo-Jima Flag Rising Memorial, and the Lincoln Memorial. We went to Arlington National Cemetery to see the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. While traveling to these memorials we passed many other notable Washington structures including the Whitehouse, Jefferson Memorial, the Capital, the Washington Monument and the Pentagon. That was a lot to see and it required split second timing to do it all in one day.
The people in Washington DC treated us like royalty. We had a police escort to there was no waiting for traffic lights and other traffic was stopped to let us pass. My brother-in-law who was part of our group, and I were given the same guide who was a charming lady named Jennifer. She has never been to Washington DC either, she made a wonderful experience even better.
On our return flight we had mail call,e very veteran received dozens of letters of support. There were cards and letters from elementary students to people in their 90's.
When we landed in Escanaba we were welcomed home by hundreds of people. This was not a one day event, the day before our flight, a banquet was held in our honor. We had an excellent meal, a very good choral group perform, and each veteran received personal recognition by standing when his name was called. There was also swag. Each veteran received a tote bag, Honor Flight blanket, t-shirt, jacket and a cap.
In addition to other miscellaneous items, our lodging wasn't just at a motel. We stayed in a suite with plush couches, chairs and two bathrooms for 3 people. The lodging was not free but was highly discounted. The Honor Flight Committee sponsored one of the most organized events I have ever been a part of. Every one on the flight will never forget this event.
Thank you for sending me along with other veterans from different branches of the service on an Honor Flight. I deeply appreciate this opportunity. It was a very special experience I will always remember. I encourage all veterans and/or the people who love them to contact the Honor Flight Committee. Veterans eligible are men and women who have served during World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam Era. The wait averages two years to get on an Honor Flight but it is well worth the wait. Contact honorflight.com to fill out your application today. Although we are only a group of old soldiers, you won't let us fade away.
Recent local newspaper articles show the risks of mining here. A picture showed that transportation accidents happen, right here in River City.A semi tanker carrying Cyanide to the proposed mine, can kill us.Cyanide kills! Cyanide kills in minutes, before EMS arrives. Even if transported in dry form, in contact with water (rain, puddles, lakes, ditches, emergency hoses, etc.) cyanide kills. Cyanide kills life above and below the water.
Another article proved how little Aquila cares about us. They tried to eliminate our case against them by saying we do not have legal "standing". This means they said we the people here do not have enough interest in our own lands, lives and River to bring our suit. Aquila was wrong about that. The judge declared we do have the power and right to take our stand. They were also wrong when issuing a recent press release saying they have the permits to start mining now. NOT true!Any permits they have were granted only "conditionally", meaning they cannot mine yet until they meet over 70 pages of conditions. They have not even applied for the local permit required. We still have time to act to Save our Menominee River.
Another article described how Aquila intentionally and knowingly exposed our aquifers to potential contamination. They admitted to removing the locks earlier this winter and left at least one "monitoring" well actually uncapped too. These are the wells into our groundwater they will monitor and do their own testing on. They did not re-secure the wells until we called the authorities. We cannot trust them to keep our water secure now. Can we trust them when their own monitoring results will enrich them? They would do their own testing too, on millions of gallons of contaminated waste, including used cyanide, as it comes from their own water treatment plant directly into our River.
These articles reported accidents and intentional disregard for safety procedures do happen here, Aquila does not respect us, and they lied about having all the required permits, when they do not. How's that for a company that claims they will follow all the safety precautions, and that they want open, honest, transparent communication with the communities?
We still can Save the River, ourselves, our pursuits of happiness, lands, property values, businesses, wildlife, including protected bald eagles that depend on clean water and fish here. Contact all your local, state, and federal officials. Say you DO NOT WANT ANY sulfide-mineral mining here" Not in WI, not in MI. Both states are tied to the water and water economy here. All our officials NEED to hear it from you. Call, write or e-mail each one. Make it simple. Say: you DO NOT WANT ANY sulfide-mineral mining here, and that your vote depends on what they do to stop it.
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