Judge Rejects Wetlands Permit For WI-MI Border Mine
Everything that glitters isn't necessarily gold - at least in the eyes of the court. A Michigan judge has rejected the wetlands permit for a company that wants to mine for gold, zinc, and copper near the Wisconsin-Michigan border. The court has throw out the application made by Aquila Resources, Inc. that would have let it set up shop within 150-feet of the Menominee River, located in the western Upper Peninsula of Michigan - right near the border.
At issue is the way that Michigan environmental regulators handled the wetlands permit application process. According to news sources, the case centers around the change of course for the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) - which was known at the time as the Department of Environmental Quality. News reports show that the agency initially rejected the wetlands applications by the company "beginning in 2015". Meanwhile, the company continued to apply for a wetlands permit for the construction of their mining operation.
As late as March 2018, the agency was still rejecting those applications. However:
:...[T]wo months later, on May 3, 2018, following a meeting with Aquila officials and 'supplemental information' being presented to the EPA, the federal agency changed its stance. Under pressure to approve the permit at the state level or have authority revert to the EPA, EGLA officials the following month (sic) approved the wetlands permit."
In order for the permit to be approved, the agency set forth a number of provisions that had to be met by Aquila.
Critics of the mine voiced their opinions that "virtually nothing changed" from the initial rounds of disapproval to the agency green-lighting the wetlands permit. In this recent court hearing, the judge agreed.
So what's next for Aquila? News sources show that they are "evaluating....[their]....alternatives, which include the submission of an updated permit application or appealing the decision to the EGLE environmental review panel".