January 2021 Mining Update | Permit DENIED, Back Forty Project, Menominee River

Jan 7, 2021 | Local Groups, Mining

BIG NEWS! On January 4th Administrative Law Judge Daniel Pulter denied Aquila Resources wetland permit for the proposed Back Forty sulfide mine near the Menominee River.

In June 2018, Tom Boerner, the Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin, and the Coalition to Save the Menominee River contested the wetland permit that Aquila Resources received from Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE). We are grateful for their persistence and dedication to protecting our waters from the threat of sulfide mining.

We celebrate all of the hard work and this success, but we will continue the work to stop this project. While this is a setback for Aquila, we expect them to challenge this decision. Stay tuned for next steps!

You can donate to support the continued legal efforts of the Coalition (donate here) and Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin (donate here).


Overview of Judge’s Decision

The Coalition to Save the Menominee River provided this press release that provides a good summary of the decision:

The Coalition to SAVE the Menominee River, Inc. is very pleased with Judge Pulter’s decision in our Contested Case to deny Aquila Resources’ Wetlands Permit. His decision validates many of the objections the Coalition raised with respect to the Permit.

One of our big arguments was that the application should never have been considered administratively complete by EGLE because the wetland impacts were not reliably identified, which deprived the public of its right to review and comment. Judge Pulter agreed.

Another issue we raised was that Aquila did not properly assess the alternatives to avoid wetland impacts. Again, the Judge agreed.

And, on the big question of whether EGLE could issue a permit with conditions that would have allowed Aquila to submit new and updated modeling to support the wetland impacts, the Judge said such conditional permits are not allowed.

The decision itself is over 70 pages long, and our attorney is still assessing what it all means. We do understand that the next step, should any of the parties so choose, would be to seek review from the Environmental Permit Review Commission. That request would have to be made within 21 days.

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For mining-related questions, please contact Allison Werner by email at [email protected].

Photo credit:
Karen Prange, Menominee River in January