08/07/2018- The Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin has filed a petition for a contested case hearing on the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality’s (MDEQ) issuance of a Wetland Permit for the Back Forty Mine.
The Wetland Permit, issued in June, is the final state permit necessary to develop the Back Forty Mine. The permit allows for construction of the Back Forty Mine on wetlands connected and adjacent to the Menominee River.
According to a press release, the Tribe opposes the mine, not only for its potential to contaminate the Menominee River and destroy surrounding wetlands, but also because the area has cultural significance to the Tribe. The Tribe has burial grounds, agricultural sites and ceremonial sites that have been in the area for centuries.
Represented by Tribal attorneys and the environmental law firm Earthjustice, the Tribe contends the permit was granted to the mine developer, Aquila Resources contrary to the requirements of state law for wetland protections – and over the written objections of MDEQ’s own Water Resources Division.
Attorney Stephanie Tsosie of the Earthjustice legal team says the permit was issued despite every indication that it would have a negative impact on the Menominee River and destroy its surrounding wetlands as the permit application left out critical information on the river and wetlands system, and is based on promises that the developer would provide information down the road.
The petition for a contested case hearing was filed on Friday, August 3. The contested case proceeding will be heard by an administrative law judge in Michigan.
Last week the Coalition to Save the Menominee River also asked for a contested case hearing on the permit.
The Menominee Tribe of Wisconsin is already the plaintiff in a federal lawsuit against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency which contends these agencies violated the Clean Water Act by allowing the State of Michigan to oversee what should be a federal permitting process.