On November 13, 2018, the Coalition to SAVE the Menominee River, Inc. filed a lawsuit in federal court seeking review of the federal government’s handling of the wetlands permit for the proposed Back Forty Mine.
As has been well publicized, the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers have thus far delegated final permitting authority to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality despite the fact that the proposed Back Forty Mine would be located within 50 yards of the Menominee River in Michigan, and an environmental assessment completed as part of the application process determined that there are a number of potential impacts to the Menominee River as well as to Wisconsin residents. The EPA did lodge numerous objections to the permit but withdrew those objections at the last minute, based on Michigan’s decision to address deficiencies in the permit by imposing material conditions in the permit.
The Coalition’s lawsuit is intended to address two issues: (1) Did the EPA properly determine that the proposed wetland permit fell within the authority delegated to Michigan; and (2) Was the EPA’s decision to withdraw its objections to the permit arbitrary and capricious, an abuse of discretion or otherwise not in accordance with applicable law.
“With so many potential issues affecting Wisconsin, decisions regarding the proposed Mine shouldn’t be left to a Michigan state agency. When you have a boundary water and impacts to more than one state, the federal government should be in charge of making permitting decisions and should make those decisions in accordance with the requirements of federal law,” said Dale Burie, President of the Coalition.
The Coalition to SAVE the Menominee River, Inc. is a Wisconsin non-profit corporation dedicated to educating and supporting citizens regarding environmental issues affecting the Menominee River, including potential impacts of the proposed Back Forty Mine.