To the Journal editor:
John Pepin's article "Club files legal challenge against Eagle Mine project" talks about the first challenge in Federal Court brought against Rio Tinto's Eagle mine.
Many readers will surely wonder if those who oppose the Eagle Mine will ever give up after many years of legal challenges. The answer is simple - no, not until Rio Tinto complies with our laws. The fact that they have not complied with the law may be lost on most folks.
Those of us who work in the environmental field wonder how an Indian sacred site now sits with a giant metal tube in it and a "treated water infiltration system" with no Clean Water Act permit stands ready to discharge a half million gallons per day of mine water that will "vent" to the surface - flow into the Salmon Trout River and into Lake Superior.
The "why" can be found when you study carefully how Rio Tinto operates. It is a fact that Rio Tinto lobbied and lawyered upfront - including gaining the adoption of Michigan's Part 632 Non-ferrous metals mining law.
Now it's coming unraveled. The alternative road can't seem to be approved and Rio Tinto is writing letters to my tribe, the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community, trying to restore trust throughout the community.
Well Mr. Burley, the lack of trust sits squarely with the way you behave. You see, it is also a fact that Rio Tinto has hired key state employees who worked on their state permits, advocated for their approval and even defended them in litigation.
The Mining Journal recently published an op-ed written by one such employee. This practice is forbidden by the executive branch and for good reason. I congratulate the Huron Mountain Club for their recent legal challenge under the Rivers and Harbors Act, our oldest environmental law.
It's fitting that they used it given their long history in the Upper Peninsula. Now I'm going to mail my 60-day notice to sue the EPA for failing to require an National Pollution Discharge Elimination System permit under the Clean Water Act for the mine water discharges.