Residents speak out about pause in Back Forty Mine project

Local News

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has halted the issuance of a permit for the “Back Forty” Mine project as proposed.

The EPA put a 90 day hold on the project permitting and requested the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) to address specific objections.

Jeffrey Budish lives close to the Menominee river.

He’s been fighting the presence of Aquila since 2016 and says the Back Forty mine would do more harm than good.

“They’re looking at putting 1.52 million gallons per day of polluted treated water into the Menominee river, which a lot of that contains methylmercury,” says Budish.

Which is one reason the EPA, Army Corp of Engineers and the U.S. fish and wildlife service have the Back Forty mine at a standstill.

In a letter issued at the beginning of this month the 3 agencies say they want more answers before aquila can move forward.

The letter says there is a lack of information on how the mine will impact the area, surrounding wildlife and the water itself.

All factors that residents are concerned about.

“The Wisconsin River Alliance just spent 30 million dollars to bring back the sturgeon population from extinction,” says Kevin Lancour, a member of the Indigenous Warrior Society of Wisconsin. “We’re also worried about the other endangered species, plant species that we have there and also our sacred sites.”

But unless Aquila can answer these questions by March 23rd and actually make necessary changes by June 8th, they won’t get the permit they need to make the project a reality which Budish is hoping will happen.

“To do that it’s like a slap in the face for the Menominee Indians so we will not stop, we will not allow one shovel of dirt to be taken out of that site no matter what stake is going to be held.”

Aquila Resources Inc. commented on the EPA’s decision,

Aquila believes the issues are readily addressable.

The Company is confident that it can work with the MDEQ within the prescribed timeframe to provide the additional information requested by the EPA.

Aquila has taken great care to design a project that meets and exceeds applicable environmental standards and is committed to ensuring that the Back Forty Project is a safe, disciplined operation that promotes and supports local community socio-economic development and is protective of the environment.

Local 5 has provided the EPA’s objection here.

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