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Song: Our Great Menominee River, Amen

During the Stay-At-Home pandemic, Lea Jane and Dale Burie of ‘Tater Patch Recording Studio in Wausaukee, Wisconsin, have released their new river awareness song called “Our Great Menominee River, Amen.” Written by Elaine Mayer of Stephenson, Michigan, the song has a strong lyrical message that illustrates the passion of people in Menominee, Marinette, and many other counties who stand firm to protect the beautiful historical legacy of the Menominee River.

Lea Jane wrote the music score, played piano and bass, and sang all the harmonies on the project. Dale supplied the guitar tracks, drums, and the lead vocals. They shared engineering duties and completed the recording session. Dale Burie stated, “It was a labor of love for the preservation of one of our region’s most valuable assets, the Menominee River.”

Everyone is invited to share the song with friends via Facebook, emails, etc., as an encouragement to protect our natural resources. Use of the song is FREE and is available here or on Coalition to SAVE the Menominee River, Inc. FB page.

Please donate if your heart is with us!

Coalition to SAVE the Menominee River, Inc.
P.O. Box 475
Marinette WI 54143

Thank you.

Our Great Menominee River, Amen



From the hidden springs of water
In our Upper Michigan,
Wisconsin waters rush to join in
To that sparkling band of water
That’s been there forever.
She’s our great Menominee River, Amen!


We have vowed to defend her
As her enemies go after
All the treasures that lie deep within.
We will fight to protect her
From those who don’t respect her,
Our great Menominee River, Amen!


She has carried life within her,
Run the paper mills beside her,
She’s moved big timber down from the hills.
All the tribes and trappers
Have their history within her,
Our great Menominee River, Amen. (CHORUS)


Those foreign hands will kill her
If we don’t band together.
She doesn’t stand a chance on her own.
There is strength in numbers;
United we can save her,
Our great Menominee River, Amen!

TAG: She’s our great Menominee River, Amen!


Just watch her water flowing.
In the morning sun she’s glowing,
Our great Menominee River, Amen!

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Fly Fishing Film Tour 2020

Coalition to Save the Menominee River Locations and Dates

Ann Arbor, Michigan (Michigan Theater) on February 28
Michigan Theater
603 E. Liberty St
Ann Arbor, MI 48104
Phone: 734 668 8397

Grand Rapids, Michigan (The Wealthy Theatre) on February 29 (both shows)
The Wealthy Theatre
1130 Wealthy St SE
Grand Rapids, MI 49506
Phone: 616 459 4788 X 130

Chicago, Illinois (Thalia Hall) on March 3
Thalia Hall
1807 S. Allport St
Chicago, IL 60608
Phone: 312 526 3851

Madison, Wisconsin (Barrymore Theater) on March 5
Barrymore Theater
2090 Atwood Ave
Madison, WI 53704
Phone: 608 241 8864

Green Bay, Wisconsin (Meyer Theater) on March 14
Meyer Theater
117 S. Washington St
Green Bay, Wisconsin 54301
Phone: 920 433 3333

Lake Forest, Illinois (Gorton Community Center) on April 5
Gorton Community Center
400 E. Illinois Rd.
Lake Forest, IL 60045
Phone: 847 234 6060

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Aquila Permit Update 11/23/19



November 23, 2019


              As of November 23, 2019, only ONE of FIVE required permits has been both “issued” and deemed “effective,” and that is the NPDES Permit, #1 on the list below.


  • Issued – means that a permit has been signed, not actually “Effective.”
  • With Conditions – means a permit is signed and tentatively approved, PENDING a long list of substantive conditions that have to be met before mining could begin; and
  • Effective – means the permit has met ALL pre-mine construction conditions (if there were any attached) and the permit is fully granted.
  1. NPDES Permit: Issued and Effective.  This is the National Pollution Discharge Elimination System permit, involving water discharge to the Menominee River.
  1. Mining Permit 632 Amendment: Amendment (with major changes) to the original Mining Permit 632 was in Public Comment period until  July 23, 2019 & still awaiting final decision by EGLE (formerly MDEQ).
  1. Modified Air Quality Permit: Amendment was in Public Comment period until July 23, 2019 & still awaiting final decision by EGLE.
  1. Wetland Permit: “Issued” but not “effective” and contains 28 pages, single-spaced typed, of many conditions that would have to be met before it was considered “Effective.”  This Permit is also involved in TWO contested cases against the MDEQ (now EGLE) and TWO federal court cases against the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers.
  1. Dam Safety Permit: Still under deliberation by EGLE (formerly MDEQ).

Regarding this Permit:

On 6/20/19, there was an important ruling from Luke Trumble of EGLE. The Project Assessment was not adequate to complete the Review of the project. Much additional information was requested of Aquila.  Also, referenced documents were not provided with the application; EGLE asked for more details on 11 substantive issues.

In response to EGLE’s 8/9/19 request for further information regarding the Dam Safety Permit application, Aquila has had two extensions: 10/3/19 and 11/4/19. On 11/4/19 Aquila requested a further extension until 12/31/19. If EGLE has not received the requested information by 12/31/19, Aquila would be required to submit a NEW application for the Dam Safety Permit.

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Letter to “The Mining Journal”

Mine isn’t done deal

To the Journal editor:

The Coalition to SAVE the Menominee River Inc. filed suit in Michigan state court contesting the signing of the “Wetlands Permit” which contains 28 pages of single-spaced “conditions” to be met by Aquila before the permit is valid. The court case is not over, so no decision has been made by Judge Pulter. Yet, Aquila has chosen to lie in their advertising on TV-6, Marquette; TV-5, Green Bay; and TV-11, Green Bay, telling the public they have all the permits and will be mining in 2020. This information is not true.

Mark Twain Quote: “A mine is a hole in the ground with a liar standing on top.”

Now Aquila is offering community contracts to “buy” their way into local units of government in Michigan. These contracts, if signed, are irreversible; and promising to provide equipment and services to these governing bodies is no less than extortion, in my mind.

I have spent 3 1/2 weeks in Lansing during this “contested case” hearing and yes, there are inconsistencies in the testimonies of the “expert” witnesses. And we are not done. We will return to Lansing for three more days of testimony this fall. After testimonies are completed, all attorneys will submit their summaries to the judge in writing. The judge will then make his decision. No matter who wins this case, I am sure “appeals” will follow. And circuit court. Then supreme court. As the law provides.

The coalition has also filed a federal case against EPA and Army Corp of Engineers, which will be forthcoming in the near future.

In addition, the public has experienced misleading media that has many people confused. We were all brought up to “trust” our media; evidently this is not true any longer. Please check out everything you read and confirm its truth before you believe it.

It’s time to stand up for what you believe to be in the best interest of your community, your future generations, and your water. Protect yourself.

There has never been a metallic sulfide mine that has not polluted or contaminated the environment. There is too much at stake in this decision. The risk is too high!

Get more information at: Email me at:

DALE BURIE, President
Coalition to SAVE the Menominee River, Inc.

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Talking points to use when following up from the public hearing


  1. The Back Forty Mine site will be located within a landscape that features significant ancient Menominee Tribal cultural resources, including tribal burial grounds, historic agricultural sites and ceremonial sites. Mining operations will destroy these irreplaceable resources and irreversibly harm the Menominee River and nearby wetlands.  While responsibility for issuing federal surface and water discharge permits and wetlands permits has been delegated to the state of Michigan, the federal trust responsibility owed to the tribes has not.

Aquila has ignored Menominee treaty rights and is in violation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples that requires all extractive resource projects that affect indigenous peoples to obtain the free, prior and informed consent of indigenous peoples. Furthermore, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature has affirmed that the sacred natural sites of indigenous peoples should be “No-Go-Areas” for destructive industrial activities like mining and for corporations to permanently withdraw from such areas.

  1. Aquila has chosen the upstream design to store its mine tailings. The upstream design is the lowest cost option but the most prone to failure, according to experts. About 76% of tailings dam failures worldwide are related to upstream construction methods.  The recent tailings dam failure that occurred in Brumadinho Brazil in January 2019 released almost 3 billion gallons of sludgy mine waste and killed about 270 people. Brazil has since banned upstream mining dams and ordered that Brazil’s 88 upstream dams be taken down or converted into other types of dams. The international mining industry has called for a fundamental change in the industry’s approach to safe tailings management. Insurance companies like American International Group (AIG) are withdrawing from the vast majority of its mining liability business in response to the Brazilian disaster. Why is the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy considering a Dam Safety Permit for a tailings dam that is designed to fail?

3. Upstream tailings dam embankments are not suited to areas of seismic activity. Liquefaction, or the sudden loss of strength when tailings sands are loaded and cannot drain, can be triggered by seismic events, such as an earthquake.  When liquefaction occurs, “a solid material seemingly resting safely in place can abruptly become a murky liquid, flowing downhill and destroying nearly everything in its path,” as happened in the January 25 tailings dam disaster in Brazil.  Chile, Peru, and other earthquake-prone countries ban the design because even small seismic activity has been shown to affect tailings dams.

According to Dr. David Chambers, an internationally-recognized expert on tailings dam failures, Aquila’s seismic risk analysis did not do either a probabilistic or determinist analysis to determine the largest ground motion that the tailings dam structure could experience. The International Commission on Large Dams recommends that tailings dams be designed to withstand the Maximum Credible Earthquake or the 1 in 10,000-year event  By using the 1 in 2,475-year seismic event instead of the 1 in 10,000-year event, Aquila significantly underestimates the size of the seismic event the tailings dam could experience. The use of the 1 in 2,475-year seismic event for the design basis event, and the lack of probabilistic seismic analysis, are viewed as unacceptable for tailings impoundment design in most regulatory jurisdictions.

4. Aquila fails to disclose what the life of the liners in the tailings and waste rock management facility is expected to be and what will happen in the likely result of the failure of the liners. Tailings impoundments have been using plastic liners for only 35 years, and the leakage or seepage of lined tailings impoundment facilities is already a known problem.  Leaking tailings liners are “commonly underestimated” according to the EPA, resulting in Leachate seepage and the transport of contaminants into groundwater.

The liners to be used in the Back Forty tailings management facility (TMF) have “no lifetime guarantee” according to an industrial liner manufacturer.  Plastic liners will also be adversely affected by acidic chemistry of the TMF. Liners have a finite life, and will fail following the closure of the TMF, when the resources available to remediate the failure will be limited.

  1. Mining companies routinely produce dam breach analyses as part of their environmental impact assessments for new projects or tailings management facility (TMF) expansions. Yet the word “breach” in relation to the TMF facility is never mentioned in the Mine Permit Application Amendment (MPAA).

Failure of the TMF would obviously have major, permanent impacts on the land surrounding the mine site, and on the Menominee River. Toxic tailings sludge would be discharged downriver, poisoning the water and destroying the aquatic habitat from the mine site all the way into Lake Michigan. The downstream communities of Menominee, Michigan and Marinette, Wisconsin would be severely impacted.  Yet Aquila has failed to complete an analysis of what the environmental, social and economic impacts of a partial breach or total collapse of the TMF would be.  Why has such an analysis not been required as a condition of the dam safety permit?

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Use the power of the pen!

Action Needed on Back Forty Mine!


(From our friends at River Alliance of Wisconsin)

More than 300 people attended and 60 people spoke at the consolidated Back Forty Mine/Aquila Resources permit hearing on Tuesday evening.
Thank you to everyone who attended and spoke for our waters. It was great to see the huge crowd wearing blue!

You can watch a video recording of the June 25 hearing thanks to Indian Country TV.

If you couldn’t attend but would like to take action to protect the Menominee River, please submit written comments using the information below.

Submit written comments to protect the Menominee River:

Anyone interested in protecting our water resources from mining pollution may submit comments. Please submit your written comments to The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) using the information below.
The hearing covered three permits, you may submit public comments for EACH permit:

  • Dam Safety
  • Air Quality
  • Oil, Gas, and Minerals


Deadline for written comments: Friday, July 5. The address is below.
Water Resource Division, Marquette District Office,
1504 West Washington Street
Marquette, MI, 49855


Deadline for written comments: Tuesday, July 23.
Submit comments to and use the subject line: Aquila Resources Inc. – Permit to Install Application No. 205-15A.


Deadline for written comments: Tuesday, July 23.
Submit comments to


If you would like more information about the permits, EGLE held two webinars to provide information and take questions about the permits.
Watch the webinars at these links:

A decision on all three permits is expected this fall.