Environmentalists Applaud Dismissal of 595 Lawsuit


MARQUETTE – Grassroots environmental groups including Save the Wild U.P. (SWUP), Concerned Citizens of Big Bay (CCBB), the Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve (YDWP), and other environmental groups are hailing the decision of Federal Judge Robert Holmes Bell, who recently dismissed the Marquette County Road Commission (MCRC) lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

In his dismissal, Judge Bell stated that the MCRC “doesn’t have a viable claim against the EPA.”

From the beginning environmentalists have contended that what the Road Commission wanted to build was an industrial road — a mining haul road — but serious threats to wetlands and watersheds proved insurmountable. The proposed road would have cut across 22 rivers and streams, including the Dead River and Yellow Dog River Watersheds, the Mulligan Creek headwaters, Voelker Creek, and Wildcat Canyon. It would also have damaged or destroyed numerous wetlands.

“This decision wholly validates what U.P. environmental groups have expressed all along” said Alexandra Maxwell, SWUP’s executive director. “We applaud Judge Bell for this decision, and we hope this settles the matter.”

“The EPA’s objections to the construction of this road were valid and protective of one of the world’s largest sources of freshwater,” said Maxwell.

“The 595 issue demonstrates the reason we need clear siting requirements, because there are places where Thou Shalt Not,” said Chauncey Moran, Chairman of the Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve Board of Directors.

“Let’s hope Judge Bell’s dismissal stands. Big highways are destructive swathes to natural habitats and wildlife. Woods roads are good enough in the UP backcountry,” said Jon Saari

“It was a no-brainer. How much energy has the MCRC wasted on this fraudulent permit application?” asks Gene Champagne, spokesperson for Concerned Citizens of Big Bay. “Moving forward, the MCRC needs to ‘Quit Whining, Drop the Lawsuit, and Fix Our Roads.’”

“It should be clear to everyone now – the Rio Tinto “Woodland Road” proposal and MCRC’s subsequent CR-595 proposal didn’t meet even the minimum requirements under the Clean Water Act. Their efforts to subvert our laws didn’t work,” said Jeffery Loman, Keweenaw Bay Indian Community tribal member and former federal oil regulator.

According to concerned citizen Catherine Parker, “MCRC doesn’t have a case. Period. The evidence is right there in the files I received through Freedom of Information Act requests.”

“The facts never supported the Road Commission’s claims. Judge Bell made the right decision,” said Kathleen Heideman, SWUP president.

Founded in 2004, Save the Wild U.P. is a grassroots environmental organization dedicated to defending wild places and clean water of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula from the dangers of sulfide mining. 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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