space
space
Peshtigo Times
space
space
space
Perspectives
* Country Cousin
space
space
Sports Shorts
* Bulldogs On Win Streak; Claim Three Packerland Victories
* Cougars Keep M&O Top Spot; Suring Moves Up
* Coleman/Lena Sweep Quadrangulars
* Cougar Matmen Clobber Vikings
* Peshtigo Girls Heat Up; Claim Three More Victories

space
Peshtigo Fire
space
e-Edition
Now Available
For more information
click here
dot
THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
space
dot
space

Aquila, Back Forty Mine Foes Comment On Permit Decision

Issue Date: January 13, 2021

On Monday, Jan. 4, Judge Daniel Pulter, Administrative Law Judge for the Michigan Office of Administrative Hearings and Rules, issued a decision denying the prior issuance of a Wetlands Permit to Aquila Resources for its Back Forty mine project on the banks of the Menominee River in Lake Township, Michigan, about 20 miles north of Menominee.

The Wetlands Permit is the last of four permits needed to allow actual construction of the mine to begin.

The ruling came in response to an an administrative contested case challenge petitioners had filed in opposition to issuance of the Wetlands Permit by the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) on June 4, 2018. In a news release commenting on their court victory, mine opponents noted the agency had sparked controversy when it approved Aquila's Wetlands Permit in 2018, over the objections of regulatory staff who were prepared to deny the permit.

The permit was contested by multiple petitioners, including an adjacent landowner, the Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin, represented by Earthjustice attorneys, and the grassroots Coalition to Save the Menominee River.

According to Earthjustice attorney Janette Brimmer, Aquila "refused to provide all of the information the state needed to determine the full environmental impacts the mine will have on the Menominee River and the surrounding area." 

The judge convened an evidentiary hearing in June 2019, which ended in January 2020. In his Jan. 4, 2021 decision, Judge Pulter determined that Aquila's groundwater model does not provide a reliable identification of wetland impacts and therefore found the permit application to be administratively incomplete. He also determined that Aquila did not provide a complete assessment of potential alternatives to its proposed plan.

The ruling concluded a two year review of the contested case. According to an Aquila news release, the permit application was based on years of environmental baseline work and a thorough review process including comment periods and public hearings.

The Jan. 4 decision was hailed by mine opponents as a victory for the environment, and drew strong objections in an Aquila Resources news release on Jan. 5, which stated:

"The Company strongly disagrees with the Judge's decision, which is based in significant part on what the Company believes is a misunderstanding of the information concerning the potential for indirect wetlands impacts associated with the Back Forty Project.

"The decision establishes a permitting approach that markedly departs from wetland permits issued for other mining projects in the Great Lakes region. Aquila worked for several years with EGLE staff during the permitting process to address the complex technical issues associated with estimating potential indirect wetland impacts, landing on an approach that complied with federal U.S. Army Corps guidelines for estimating and permitting such impacts for mining projects.

"The Wetlands Permit was issued with specific conditions that must be satisfied prior to the commencement of construction and operations, including a condition that required EGLE to accept an updated groundwater model. During the 31 months since the Wetlands Permit was issued, Aquila has been working constructively with EGLE to satisfy the conditions, and the Company planned to complete the updated groundwater model in 2021. The Company will continue to work with EGLE and believes it will successfully resolve the issues cited in the Judge's decision," the Aquila news release stated.

It concluded, "Barry Hildred, President & CEO of Aquila, commented, "Obviously, we are disappointed by the Judge's decision. The Company is evaluating its alternatives, which include the submission of an updated permit application or appealing the decision to the EGLE environmental review panel. Aquila has worked diligently to limit impacts to surrounding wetlands and is only directly impacting 11.2 acres of regulated wetlands. Having reviewed the decision, we believe that Aquila will be able to resolve the cited issues and remain confident that Back Forty will be a safe, disciplined operation that promotes and supports local community socio-economic development and is protective of the environment.'"

In response to the ruling, a joint statement was issued by Al Gedicks of Wisconsin Resource Protection Council; Dale Burie, Coalition to Save the Menominee Rive; Guy Reiter, Menikanaehkem; Ron Henricksen, Front 40 Environmental Group; Kathleen Heideman, Mining Action Group, Dave Harmon, Upper Peninsula Coalition, and Carl Lindquist, Superior Watershed Partnership.

The statement declared that regional environmental groups were celebrating the news, and went on to explain: "The Back Forty project proposes to excavate an 84 acre open-pit sulfide mine, 800 foot deep, on the banks of the Menominee River, 150 feet from the water. Most of the mine site would be covered by waste rock, ore storage, milling facilities and tailings storage. Nearly all of the Back Forty rock is reactive " capable of producing Acid Mine Drainage (AMD) when exposed to air and water. AMD pollution devastates watersheds and lasts hundreds of years," according to the statement.

"Tailings and waste rock will be stored on-site during mining; tailings waste will remain on the surface forever. During closure, the open pit mine will be backfilled with waste material. Once this takes place, groundwater contaminated with AMD is predicted to seep into the river. Environmental groups claim that the Back Forty's environmental impacts could be significantly reduced by using feasible, common-sense alternatives." the Mining Action Group's statement continued.

They say the permit would have allowed Aquila Resources to destroy  wetlands of the Menominee River watershed in order to construct and operate an open-pit sulfide mine, waste storage dam, and mill, and that wetland impacts included direct and indirect losses due to excavation, placing of fill, or building parts of the facility on top of wetlands, removing groundwater, permanently changing hydrology, impairing wetland ecosystems, and contaminating the surrounding watershed with toxic dust from mining operations, and acid-mine drainage.

Aquila Resources Inc. is a development-stage company focused on high grade and gold-rich projects in the Upper Midwest, USA. Aquila's experienced management team is focused on advancing pre-construction activities for its 100%-owned gold and zinc-rich Back Forty Project in Michigan," according to their news release.

Aquila describes its flagship Back Forty Project as, "an open pit volcanogenic massive sulfide deposit with underground potential located along the mineral-rich Penokean Volcanic Belt in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Back Forty contains approximately 1.1 million ounces of gold and 1.2 billion pounds of zinc in the measured & indicated mineral resource classifications, with additional upside potential."

Aquila has two other exploration projects in Wisconsin: Reef Gold Project located in Marathon County, Wisconsin and the Bend Project located in Taylor County, Wisconsin. Reef is a gold-copper property and Bend is a volcanogenic massive sulfide occurrence containing copper and gold.

On Dec. 22, 2020, the Ingham County Circuit Court in the State of Michigan upheld the final decision of EGLE to issue the Back Forty Mining Permit after a lengthy contested case hearing initiated by two petitioners. Subsequent to its issuance by EGLE, the Mining Permit was upheld by the Judge and an environmental review panel made up of technical experts from various fields.

The Mining Permit is one of four foundational State permits required for the commencement of construction and operations at Back Forty. In addition to the Mining Permit, regulators in Michigan have previously granted an Air Permit, Wetlands Permit, and a Water Discharge Permit for the Back Forty Project.

A news release from mine opponents states that wetlands are strictly protected under state and federal law, and before wetlands can be destroyed, Aquila must demonstrate that the impacts are unavoidable. "The applicant failed that test, and so Judge Pulter concluded that Aquila failed to demonstrate that there are no feasible and prudent alternative locations or methods and the permit must be denied," the joint news release stated.

Davis & Kuelthau attorney Ted A. Warpinski, who represented the Coalition to Save the Menominee River, said of the decision: "Judge Pulter issued a thorough and thoughtful decision recognizing the many flaws with Aquila's wetlands permit application and rejecting the attempt by EGLE to correct those flaws with improper permit conditions. We are grateful for the cooperative efforts of the Earthjustice attorneys representing the Menominee Tribe as well as the diligent efforts of Mr. Boerner who joined us in challenging this wetland permit.  We encourage Aquila to accept that this is simply not a suitable location for a mining operation."

The mine site is an important location for members of the Menominee Tribe of Indians, who were represented in the contested case proceedings by Earthjustice attorneys on behalf of the group "Menikanaehkem," which is headed by Executive Director Guy Reiter. Reiter said their organization applauded the decision, and declared, "Menikanaehkem has always been a strong defender of our beautiful Menominee River and our vast Menominee cultural resources located around the river."

 Ron Henriksen, spokesperson for the Front 40 Environmental Fight, added, "We are so appreciative of the hard work by individuals, tribes, and environmental organizations which helped the judge reach this important decision.  Front 40 Environmental Fight was founded in 2003 to help defend the Menominee River and Shakey Lakes from the hazards of sulfide mining; for the past 17 years, we have informed the public about the dangers of sulfide mining through education and outreach " and the community responded overwhelmingly, rejecting Aquila's dangerous Back Forty mine! We thank everyone who is working to protect our wetlands, and the Menominee River."

 Kathleen Heideman, a member of the Mining Action Group, declared, "This decision is a thoughtful, clear-eyed rebuke of Aquila Resources. Aquila's approach to permitting the Back Forty project has been hasty and incompetent, and reveals a disregard for Michigan's natural resources. The decision demonstrates that the Wetland Permit was subject to denial for dozens of reasons " critical data was never provided to regulators, hydrological modeling was unsupported, and statutory requirements were not met. Most critically, Aquila failed to undertake any meaningful review of the feasible alternatives, in order to minimize the impacts to wetlands, or avoid wetlands altogether.

 Horst Schmidt, president of the Upper Peninsula Environmental Coalition, called it great news for the people of Wisconsin and Michigan. "Aquila's inability to submit a permit without major deficiencies reinforces our concern that this company is unable to meet the minimum standards for developing a safe mining operation. It's a shame people must waste their time for years fighting to keep the State of Michigan from approving a mine that threatens one of the Great Lake's best sports fishing habitats, even as Michigan and Wisconsin nonprofits and environmental agencies work jointly to restore sturgeon habitat in the Menominee River. I congratulate the Administrative Law Judge on this wise environmental ruling," Schmidt concluded.

Al Gedicks, executive secretary of the Wisconsin Resources Protection Council, called the permit application "...a fraudulent application that prevented the public from recognizing the full extent of the harm to wetlands from this project," and described Aquila's conduct in this case as "ethically reprehensible."


Recent stories, opinions and photos

Issue Date Department Headline
01-13-2021Front Page
Woman's Club Donates

01-13-2021Front Page
No Shut-Offs For Peshtigo Water/Sewer Bills Until April

01-13-2021Front Page
Elias Family Pays Forward With Random Kindness Act

01-13-2021Front Page
Aquila, Back Forty Mine Foes Comment On Permit Decision

01-13-2021Front Page
Riverside Cemetery Meet Reviews 2020 Activities

01-13-2021Front Page
Pound Authorizes Earley To Issue Village Citations

01-13-2021Sports
Bulldogs On Win Streak; Claim Three Packerland Victories

01-13-2021Sports
Cougars Keep M&O Top Spot; Suring Moves Up

01-13-2021Sports
Coleman/Lena Sweep Quadrangulars

01-13-2021News
Mobile Food Pantry Location Change to Spies

01-13-2021News
Woman's Club Donates Books For Kids in Need

01-13-2021Community - Coleman
Equity Highlights Recent Events

01-13-2021Community - Coleman
Candidates Announced

01-13-2021Community - Crivitz
Crivitz Community Ed Needs Coaches

01-13-2021Community - Crivitz
Wisconsin Lutheran College Dean's List

01-13-2021Community - Crivitz
Season's Readings!!

01-13-2021Perspectives
Country Cousin

01-13-2021Perspectives
From My Window

01-13-2021Perspectives
From Our Readers

01-13-2021Obituaries
Gary L. Amore

01-13-2021Obituaries
Casey L. Ashburn

01-13-2021Obituaries
Gerald Francis Bastian

01-13-2021Obituaries
Marilyn B. Beilfuss

01-13-2021Obituaries
Darell M. Brunette

01-13-2021Obituaries
Jeanne E. Compe

01-13-2021Obituaries
Philip T. Eckstrom

01-13-2021Obituaries
Vernon Haglund

01-13-2021Obituaries
Stanley J. Havelka

01-13-2021Obituaries
Margaret R. Heisel

01-13-2021Obituaries
Harriet L. Koller

01-13-2021Obituaries
John F. Kuhlmann

01-13-2021Obituaries
Shirley M. Lentz

01-13-2021Obituaries
Gerry L. Olsen

01-13-2021Obituaries
Phillip A. Paske

01-13-2021Obituaries
Judy Pelkin

01-13-2021Obituaries
Duane E. Philipps

01-13-2021Obituaries
James H. Prochaska

01-13-2021Obituaries
Evelyn C. Raygo

01-13-2021Obituaries
Sandra Reynebeau

01-13-2021Obituaries
Marjorie J. (Dzurick) Rupert

01-13-2021Obituaries
Hope E. Tyler

01-13-2021Obituaries
William J. Zaidel

01-06-2021Front Page
Marinette County Officials Sworn In

01-06-2021Front Page
Tri-Tech Manufacturing Is Coming To Peshtigo

01-06-2021Front Page
Judge Denies Wetlands Permit For Back Forty Mine Project

01-06-2021Sports
Cougar Matmen Clobber Vikings

01-06-2021Sports
Peshtigo Girls Heat Up; Claim Three More Victories

01-06-2021Sports
Marines Get Into Win Column; Defeat Panthers 69-60

01-06-2021Community - Wausaukee
Silver Cliff Blood Drive Collects 40 Pints

01-06-2021Community - Crivitz
VFW Members Distribute Christmas Food Baskets

01-06-2021Community - Coleman
Coleman Area Library Received $3,500 Grant

01-06-2021Perspectives
From Our Readers

01-06-2021Perspectives
Country Cousin

01-06-2021Perspectives


01-06-2021Obituaries
Elaine F. Armstrong

01-06-2021Obituaries
Carol J. Buck

01-06-2021Obituaries
John J. Danielak

01-06-2021Obituaries
Mary A. Dobija

01-06-2021Obituaries
Eileen V. Duffeck

01-06-2021Obituaries
Carol I. Freiss

01-06-2021Obituaries
John S. Grutza III

01-06-2021Obituaries
Henry "Jack" Kmiecik

01-06-2021Obituaries
Leatrice H. Krause

01-06-2021Obituaries
Robert D. Larson Jr.

01-06-2021Obituaries
Marion H. Marquardt

01-06-2021Obituaries
John Menard

01-06-2021Obituaries
Lowell E. Paschke

01-06-2021Obituaries
Arlene E. Retza

01-06-2021Obituaries
Eric O. Richter

01-06-2021Obituaries
Dr. Burke A. Robinette

01-06-2021Obituaries
Terry J. Rupar

01-06-2021Obituaries
William C. Stodola

01-06-2021Obituaries
Jerome F. Thomas

01-06-2021Obituaries
Ralph C. Tordeur

01-06-2021Obituaries
Carol J. Van

01-06-2021Obituaries
Dusty A. Van

01-06-2021Obituaries
William L. Wolfe

01-06-2021Obituaries
Thomas R. Woods

01-06-2021Obituaries
Kristin Zellner

12-29-2020Front Page
2021 Da Yooper Plunge Will Be Held January 1

12-29-2020Front Page
Crivitz Names Kostuch As Interim Police Chief

12-29-2020Sports
Two Found Dead In Riverview Home Fire

12-29-2020Front Page
Menominee Shooting Victim Recovering; Suspects Held

12-29-2020Community - Crivitz
Combat Vets Donate to VFW & American Legion

12-29-2020Sports
Cougars Fall to Spartans in Season Opener

12-29-2020Sports
Coleman Tops Gillett in M&O Showdown

12-29-2020Sports
Bulldogs Collar Wolverines in Non-Conference Action

12-29-2020Perspectives
From Our Readers

12-29-2020Perspectives
Country Cousin

12-29-2020Perspectives
From My Window

12-29-2020Obituaries
Ronald J. Bader

12-29-2020Obituaries
Harold Berendt

12-29-2020Obituaries
Doris E. Cornell

12-29-2020Obituaries
Kelly R. Corry

12-29-2020Obituaries
Thomas A. Franco

12-29-2020Obituaries
Joy A. Hall

12-29-2020Obituaries
Jacqueline M. Joy

12-29-2020Obituaries
Marlene Leslie

12-29-2020Obituaries
Shirley A. Nordin

12-29-2020Obituaries
Janet M Queever

12-29-2020Obituaries
Duane W. Rich

12-29-2020Obituaries
Michael W. Ruf

12-29-2020Obituaries
Barbara M. Schiff

12-29-2020Obituaries
Karen M. Schmidt

12-29-2020Obituaries
George Vavrunek

12-29-2020Obituaries
Renee Votava

12-29-2020Obituaries
Josephine A. Weise

12-22-2020Front Page
"Stuff the Blue Goose and Stuff the Sheriff"

12-22-2020Front Page
Peshtigo Council Adopts Increased Sewer Rates

12-22-2020Front Page
Bamberg Sentenced For Wastewater Fraud

12-22-2020Front Page
Middle Inlet Offers $1,000 For Road Sign Theft Info

12-22-2020Front Page
Area Churches List Christmas and New Year's Masses, Services

12-22-2020Perspectives
Country Cousin

12-22-2020Perspectives
From My Window

12-22-2020Community - Crivitz
Crivitz Board Filling Posts Of Police Chief, Village President

12-22-2020Community - Coleman
Coleman Choir Program Broadcast On Facebook

12-22-2020Community - Wausaukee
Wausaukee Names Christmas Decoration Contest Winners

12-22-2020Community - Crivitz
Crivitz Schools Holiday Break

12-22-2020Community - Wausaukee
Silver Cliff Blood Drive Is Monday, Dec. 28th

12-22-2020Community - Coleman
Santa and Mrs. Santa Visited Equity Hall Sunday

12-22-2020Sports
Suring's Stelzer Sets School's All-Time Scoring Record

12-22-2020Sports
Crivitz Boys Claims Two M&O Conference Wins

12-22-2020Sports
Improved Bulldog Grapplers Fight Hard but Fall to L/W/TL

12-22-2020Obituaries
Linda L. Bretschneider

12-22-2020Obituaries
Steven Brissette

12-22-2020Obituaries
Sister Mary Cynthia

12-22-2020Obituaries
Robert H. "Bob" Damuth Jr.

12-22-2020Obituaries
Gerald A. Farrell

12-22-2020Obituaries
Kim M. Hugo

12-22-2020Obituaries
Lon J. Harrand

12-22-2020Obituaries
Jack C. Hoppe

12-22-2020Obituaries
Leonard Klemens

12-22-2020Obituaries
Jo Ann Knott

12-22-2020Obituaries
Virginia A. Louis

12-22-2020Obituaries
Joseph R. Milquette

12-22-2020Obituaries
Dary J. Rowell

12-22-2020Obituaries
James E. Ruggles

12-22-2020Obituaries
Nancy M. Scheiderer

12-22-2020Obituaries
Michael C. Trafka

12-22-2020Obituaries
George Vavrunek

12-22-2020Obituaries
Eunice M. Vojcihoski

12-22-2020Obituaries
Marlene A. Zahn

12-22-2020Obituaries
Teri L. Ziegler

12-22-2020Obituaries
Marlene A. Zahn

12-22-2020Obituaries
Teri L. Ziegler

12-17-2020Obituaries
Richard D. Wright

12-17-2020Obituaries
Mary L. Woodke

12-17-2020Obituaries
Paul J. Stujenske

12-17-2020Obituaries
Morris Neuville

12-17-2020Obituaries
Sonja B. Morgan


space
Peshtigo Times
WEB Poll!
Do you think the Green Bay Packers will make it to the Super Bowl?
space Yes
No
Undecided
space
TO VOTE CLICK
YES, NO or UNDECIDED

Suggest a Question
space .
space
FRONT
space
.
space
CLASSIFIEDS
space
.
space
COMMUNITY
space
.
space
GUEST BOOK
space
.
space
NEWS
space
.
space
OBITS
space
.
space
PERSPECTIVES
space
.
space
SPORTS
space
.
space
SUBSCRIBE
space
.
space
.
space
PESHTIGO FIRE
space
.
space
CUSTOM PRINTING
space
.
space
TIMES' SAVER
space
.
space
Click for Peshtigo, Wisconsin Forecast
FORECAST
space
Quick...
News or Ad Search
Enter News key words.
Enter Ad key words.



Peshtigo Times
841 Maple St
PO Box 187
Peshtigo, WI 54157
Phone: 715-582-4541
Email:
News@
PeshtigoTimes.com

space
Fax: 715-582-4662
© 2000-2021
All right reserved
space
Powered by
WEB Media
Interactive
COMMUNITY
WEB sites