EPA Dismisses Environmental Appeal


EPA Dismisses Environmental Appeal

MARQUETTE — Grassroots environmental advocacy group Save the Wild U.P. (SWUP) has received notice of the dismissal of their petition to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Environmental Appeals Board (EAB). The group had appealed to the EAB after the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) reissued a Groundwater Discharge Permit (GWDP) for Lundin’s Eagle Mine, and when EPA Region 5 failed to act to require a permit that would protect the Salmon Trout River.

In dismissing the group’s petition, the EAB stated, “The Board is a tribunal of limited jurisdiction” and “not the appropriate forum for considering the Region’s alleged failure to act.” The Board peremptorily dismissed SWUP’s petition “for lack of jurisdiction.” According to attorney Michelle Halley, SWUP advisory board member, “This case was dismissed because the EAB believed theirs was the wrong venue, not on the merits of the case.”

Save the Wild U.P.’s central arguments remain undisputed: a GWDP is the wrong regulatory permit for Eagle Mine’s wastewater discharges. In the appeal, SWUP stated, “Permit conditions set for effluent discharge fail to protect surface water.” By design, a groundwater discharge permit is not protective of surface water. Surface water standards are needed, in order keep macro-invertebrates and sensitive aquatic ecosystems safe from dangerous levels of metals, pH and salts.

SWUP’s petition requested “that the EPA require Eagle Mine to obtain a Clean Water Act permit… with limits sufficiently protective of the identified groundwater-surface water interface, including aquatic life, fish and wildlife dependent upon the health of freshwater springs, the Salmon Trout River, and Lake Superior.”

“It’s outrageous that the facts of our case were not considered. Had they reviewed the content of our arguments, the merits of our appeal would have certainly prevailed. For the health of the Salmon Trout River, this situation remains critical and urgent,” said Kathleen Heideman, Save the Wild U.P. president.

According to SWUP’s interim director, Alexandra Maxwell, “This dismissal only brings a sense of renewed determination. We have a strong case. We are acting to protect our communities and our water from the dangerous contamination created by sulfide mining. Save the Wild U.P. is considering all appellate options.”

Founded in 2004, Save the Wild U.P. is a grassroots environmental organization dedicated to preserving the Upper Peninsula of Michigan’s unique cultural and environmental resources. For more information contact info@savethewildup.org or call (906) 662-9987. Get involved with SWUP’s work at savethewildup.org or follow SWUP on Facebook at facebook.com/savethewildup or Twitter @savethewildup.

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