Protecting our natural resources
To the Journal editor:
Articles in The Mining Journal report the benefits of the second Community Environmental Monitoring Program Agreement and its utility for use by other communities with mining operations.
When the first CEMP agreement was initiated by the original developer of the mine project, a five-member CEMP board was vetted by an external local agency and appointed by the Community Foundation of Marquette County.
The CEMP board was charged with interpreting its oversite role as part of the initial agreement and writing an annual report. The five-person CEMP board was solicited and selected to represent a wide range of expertise and community involvement, and charged with providing an independent review as per the CEMP Agreement.
The first agreement, as now, called for Lundin to pay for environmental monitoring to the Superior Watershed Partnership through the MCCF that served as the fiscal agent.
The CEMP board produced two brief responses to the Superior Watershed Work Plans as expected in the Agreement followed by a first annual report. It raised questions in the annual report about the objectivity of the monitoring, a potential conflict of interest with SWP and MCCF board member representation, and issues regarding payments through third party.
However, the overall tone of that report was positive. Although the CEMP board submitted its recommendations in the spirit of improving the agreement, these suggestions were not well-received, .and the CEMP board was directed to revise its language.
The five-member board spent countless hours meeting and writing the report in good faith only to see its work never made available to the public. The report was never posted on the SWP website or anywhere for public consumption.
Shortly after submitting the first annual report, the three parties amended the CEMP agreement to greatly reduce the role of an independent CEMP board and the second agreement appears to have eliminated an independent board completely.
For the record, other communities should be cautious when considering how money speaks. Agencies benefit financially, local communities thrive on this income, mine workers are well-paid, and there is an appearance of well-being among everyone. Asking questions or raising issues may upset the primary players.
The original CEMP board members participated in what was initially perceived to be a transparent process and respects SWP’s work. Hopefully there can be assurances to the public that our critical natural resources are not being degraded by the current mining and milling activities.
Nancy Wiseman Seminoff