Saturday, July 25, 2020
Thought it was time to share an update on the Menominee River mining issue. This is it. It’s being distributed to my contacts that support the opposition to the proposed Back Forty Project.
Things have been relatively quiet on the Menominee River mining issue for the past nine or ten months. That’s been good for the opposition to this project. However, it looks like Aquila may start to become active again since they just received some cash. Whatever happens the Coalition has been working to prevent this project from being built. Details in this note.
The Coalition to Save the Menominee River (Coalition) continues to work on preventing the proposed Back Forty Project from being authorized by the State of Michigan. The Coalition works with the Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin (MITW), Tom Boerner (Boerner) (family owns land contiguous to the northside of the Back Forty site) and many other organizations and individuals that are opposed to this proposed project.
Want to share some information with you about Aquila Resources Inc.’s (Aquila) operating funds, their withdrawal of the Dam Safety Permit application, ongoing and probable future litigation, American Rivers 2020 Endangered Rivers listing, and the effects of the Covid–19 virus on fundraising.
Since late 2019, Aquila, the company that wants to build the Back Forty Project on Michigan’s shoreline of the Menominee River has been relatively quiet and not very visible for the past nine or ten months. This is in contrast to them continually seeking publicity for the proposed project. We think the reason for their reduced visibility was and maybe is their lack of operating funds.
Their third quarter 2019 financial statements showed that available cash was at an all time low and diminishing. Aquila’s year end 2019 financial statement and the first quarter 2020 financial statement support this observation.
Since late 2019 we’ve noticed they’ve cut expenses by reducing on site staffing and they attempted, but failed, to generate some cash through non-mining activities.
In late June 2020 Aquila announced that it had received a relatively small infusion of cash along with the opportunity for additional funds if certain conditions are met. Aquila’s shareholders paid dearly for this cash.
In late December 2019 Aquila withdrew its Dam Safety Permit application. No specific reasons were given for this action. But, it appears that the application didn’t satisfy Michigan’s Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) requirements. Aquila’s financial statements say they would resubmit the Dam Safety Permit application before the end of the second quarter of 2020. This application hasn’t been submitted.
If Aquila eventually submits its Dam Safety Permit application the Coalition will be ready to challenge it and the assumptions used in the application. We’ve made arrangements with a “tailings dam” expert to review, analyze, and provide talking points for the public on this application. This expert provided the opposition to the Back Forty Project with an analysis of Aquila’s Wetlands Permit application and provided courtroom testimony showing that this permit was defective and shouldn’t have been issued.
In anticipation of the Dam Safety Permit application being resubmitted to EGLE the Coalition sent a letter dated
June 1, 2020, to Luke Trumble, one of EGLE’s three Dam Safety staff members that had been working on the withdrawn application. Letter asks EGLE to reconsider Aquila’s planned use of an “upstream” style tailings dam and to update the use of a 100 year rain event to a 500 year or longer time rain event to reflect ongoing climate change.
Letter was sent directly to Luke Trumble and copies were sent to 30 plus elected officials, senior staff members EGLE, and others. Waiting for his reply. Luke Trumble letter attached below.
Support for these requests are based on a significant weather event and huge disaster that took place in and around Midland, Michigan on May 19, 2020. After several days of heavy rain this area experienced a 500 year rainfall event. All this water caused the Edenville and Sanford dams to collapse and severely damage substantial areas downstream. Estimated cost to repair and replace structures, highways, etc., is more than $200,000,000.
By the way Luke Trumble inspected and filed a report on the Edenville dam in 2018 that said it was in satisfactory condition. So, his expertise in dam safety is questionable based on the Edenville and Sanford dam disaster.
Climate change is real so the use of 100 year rain events in designing the Back Forty Project isn’t acceptable. This proposed project needs a 500 year or maybe even a 1,000 year standard in order to meet today’s changing climate conditions.
Even though the Edenville and Sanford dams were constructed of steel and concrete they weren’t able to hold back the water produced from this 500 year rain event. In comparison to the Edenville and Sanford dams Aquila’s proposed upstream style tailings dam will be constructed with crushed rock and overburden materials. This structure isn’t strong enough to last in perpetuity. The proposed tailings dam needs a different design and better materials.
More tailings dam information. Recently "an international group of 142 scientists, community groups and NGOs from 24 countries published a set of 16 guidelines for the safer storage of mine waste. The guidelines aim to protect communities, workers and the environment from the risks posed by thousands of mine waste storage facilities, which are failing more frequently and with more severe outcomes". Gedicks report attached below.
Litigation. Parties to the Wetlands Permit Contested Case are waiting for Judge Daniel Pulter to release/publish his ruling/decision on this case.
We are relatively certain that the decision on this case will be appealed by the losing party (either the Coalition, Aquila, or the State of Michigan). This appeal will be in Circuit Court and will be expensive and time consuming.
On April 14, 2020 American Rivers released its 2020 list of America’s 10 Most Endangered Rivers. For the second time the Menominee River was included in this listing. The reason for being included in the 2020 and 2017 listing is the threat of the proposed Back Forty Project. https://endangeredrivers.
Unfortunately, we’ve all been affected by the Covid-19 Virus pandemic. Hope you and your family and friends are safe and healthy. Be careful.
This pandemic has prohibited the Coalition to Save the Menominee River from participating in numerous fundraising events, especially the Canoecopia and the Fly Fishing Film Tour in Green Bay. So, the Coalition has been seeking funds via virtual presentations, mass mailings, direct requests, grant writing programs, etc.
Donations to help support the Coalition’s work should be sent to:
Coalition to Save the Menominee River, Inc.
Dale Burie, President
P.O. Box 475
Marinette, WI 54143
additional info; https://www.wisconsinrivers.org/back-forty-sulfide-mine/
A few weeks ago I demonstrated The Chosen One - Silicone Bulkhead fly for NIFT on a Zoom call. I discovered this pattern on Youtube by fly tier Brammer Gunnar. Since I had several flies tied up, I figured why not give it a try at a pond I know that holds Largemouth Bass. It was already 90 degrees by 10 am and I was second guessing my decision. I let it sink for 10 seconds and slowly twitched it. From the pictures you can tell how well it worked!
Saturday, July 04, 2020
“I pledge allegiance to the flag of the Unites States of America and to the Republic, for which it stands. One nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”This fourth of July, don’t forget how we gained our freedom and our reason for celebration. Our forefathers took a huge risk when they stepped out to stand up for our country’s independence. Soldiers have fought for you and I and their families and friends have sacrificed so that we could have liberty and justice. This year, don’t let the reality of that slip past you. We are so blessed to live in this country where we can have the job we want, live where we want, and do whatever we want with our lives. Not many other people can say they have those freedoms. Though our country is not perfect, she is still beautiful, and that is because she was founded on God. This Saturday when you are relaxing and enjoying a barbecue, remember the sacrifice that was made so you could have freedom and remember how wonderful our country is.
God Bless the USA!
Friday, May 15, 2020
If you haven’t heard of Gunnar Brammer fly tying yet, you might want to catch up on who he is to the fly tying scene. I’ve watched all of Gunnar’s video’s on fly tying and fishing techniques and I very impressed. Gunnar demonstrates some great tying techniques that are very
effective as you will see in his videos.
effective as you will see in his videos.
Friday, April 24, 2020
I had to travel to my cabin near Viroqua to check on my beehives and add a new one. I had the chance to get out on to the stream by my cabin. This is Mill Creek that runs through my property. I was using a black woolly bugger with a bead head, and a little tungsten weight on the line, with a strike indicator about 30 inches above the fly. Caught 4 nice size trout within about 40 minutes at the bend in the stream, right near a downed tree.
Was pretty happy. It's rare I get time off to go fishing, so this was a nice "bonus" of being on a week long furlough from work because of the challenging economy with this Virus. Trying to make lemonade out of a lemon of a disease.
Sure am enjoying the NIFT zoom meetings!