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Final Permit Submitted for Back Forty Mine

Aquila Resources Inc. has submitted its final permit for approval of a mine that would operate near the bank of the Menominee River in Upper Michigan, across from the Wisconsin border. The wetland permit has met significant opposition in both Wisconsin and Michigan.

On July 25, the Door County Board of Supervisors joined Marinette and Brown counties in passing a resolution opposing the mine. The Menominee County Board opposed the mine Aug. 8 by a 5-4 vote. Several municipalities, including the Village of Sister Bay, have also passed resolutions opposing the mine.

All resolutions in opposition cite the threat to water quality in the Menominee River, which runs into the Bay of Green Bay. Open pit sulfide mines have a poor pollution record elsewhere in the country.

Leading up to the Door County Board of Supervisor’s resolution, there was some debate as to whether resolutions passed in Wisconsin would have any effect on the permitting of a mine located in Michigan. Parts of the Clean Water Act indicate shared jurisdiction over projects affecting a waterway shared by two states.

Aquila Resources submitted the wetland permit Oct. 2. The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) has 30 days to ensure the submitted application is complete. If the DEQ needs more information, that 30-day clock stops.

The DEQ will then post a notice of the permit application and schedule a public hearing. The department is required to hold a public hearing if someone requests it.

“We are going to assume that we are going to get a request,” said Michigan DEQ District Supervisor Ginny Pennala. She said the department is already planning a public hearing, details of which will be published along with the permit notice.

The DEQ has 120 days once it determines the permit is complete to accept or reject it.

The public hearing will focus on impacts to wetlands, inland lakes, streams and floodplains.

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