The Most Important News Story of the Day/Millennium

Published on Monday, December 5, 2011 by

The Most Important News Story of the Day/Millennium

The most important piece of news yesterday, this week, this month, and this year was a new set of statistics released yesterday by the Global Carbon Project. It showed that carbon emissions from our planet had increased 5.9 percent between 2009 and 2010. In fact, it was arguably among the most important pieces of data in the last, oh, three centuries, since according to the New York Times it represented “almost certainly the largest absolute jump in any year since the Industrial Revolution.”

What it means, in climate terms, is that we’ve all but lost the battle to reduce the damage from global warming. The planet has already warmed about a degree Celsius; it’s clearly going to go well past two degrees. It means, in political terms, that the fossil fuel industry has delayed effective action for the 12 years since the Kyoto treaty was signed. It means, in diplomatic terms, that the endless talks underway in Durban should be more important than ever–they should be the focus of a planetary population desperate to figure out how

it’s going to survive the

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Tests find toxins at Flambeau mine

By Lee Bergquist of the Journal Sentinel


Fourteen years after mining operations ended, water samples on the site of the Flambeau mine near Ladysmith show high levels of toxic pollutants.

In the most recent tests, state records show that copper and zinc levels have exceeded state toxicity standards for surface waters, potentially threatening fish and other aquatic life.

The findings come as mining regulation looms as a legislative issue this fall, and the Flambeau mine has been cited as a model of mineral extraction without environmental harm. Lawmakers are poised to rewrite mining laws and ease restrictions after Gogebic Taconite, based in Hurley, put plans on hold this year for a $1.5 billion iron ore mine until regulations are streamlined.

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“Saving the Great Lakes Forever” Conference kicks off May 6

To enlarge:   FLOW_legal_4-10-11

(Traverse City, MI) –People from around the entire Great Lake Basin will be gathering for the 2011 Conference “Saving the Great Lakes Forever” which kicks off on Friday, May 6, at 6:50 p.m. at the historic State Theater in downtown Traverse City.

Hosted by the Flow for Water Coalition, the Great Lakes Water Studies Institute at Northwestern Michigan College and Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation, the conference will focus on learning about the abuses and threats facing the Great Lakes.  The conference will also provide solutions to stop these threats and to protect the citizens, communities, local agriculture, and businesses who depend upon the waters of the Great Lakes Basin.

Friday night’s kick-off will feature a presentation by Maude Barlow, internationally recognized water advocate and former Senior Advisor to the President of the United Nations General Assembly.  Ms. Barlow is the author of 16 books.  Her address will offer a unique perspective on how each of us living within the Great Lakes Basin need to come together to protect the waters of the Great Lakes.

A screening of the award winning documentary “Tapped”, an unflinching look at the plastic bottled water industry, will follow Ms. Barlow’s presentation and the evening will conclude with an afterglow party in the “Dome” at the Park Place Hotel for networking, live music, and refreshments.

The conference continues on Saturday, May 7, at Milliken Auditorium and Scholar Hall on the campus of Northwestern Michigan College. Registration opens at 8:00 a.m.  Welcome and introductions begin at 8:45 a.m.

Wenonah Hauter, Executive Director of Food and Water Watch and one of the world’s leading experts on water, energy, food and the environment, will speak at 9:00 a.m.  Her address will be followed by breakout workshop sessions on a variety of water-related hot topics.  The event will conclude with an expert roundtable discussion:  Solutions for Saving the Waters of the Great Lakes Basin.

“We are incredibly excited to hold this conference here and to be able to have presentations from both Maude Barlow and Wenonah Hauter.  They will provide a dynamic wake-up call to everyone interested in protecting our Great Lakes,” said Traverse City attorney, Jim Olson, who also serves as Executive Director of the Flow for Water Coalition.

“We take our incredible natural beauty and abundance for granted, but there are very real threats facing the Great Lakes Basin.” Olson continued, “ If we don’t protect these majestic waters now, the Great Lakes could be lost for our future generations.  Our goal is to build deep citizen awareness and provide solutions to make sure that doesn’t happen.”

Tickets are $25 per person for the 2-day event or $40 for two.

Tickets can be purchased on-line at

Or you can register, purchase tickets or obtain additional information at Jilliebean Green at (231) 432-0103 or at

Contact: Jim Olson


Brian Beauchamp



Terry Swier


DC Bureau: Midwest Mining Rush Threatens Water: Parts I – VI

Thursday, 16  November 2010
Written by Tiffany Danitz Pache, DC Bureau,

Some of this nation’s most pristine ancient forests, glacial wetlands and fresh water lakes are under threat from large, multinational mining companies that plan to extract billions of dollars in copper and nickel using methods untested in a water-rich environment. The Great Lakes Basin – America’s largest supply of surface fresh water – faces the duel dangers of increasing prices for industrial metals and a failing economy in desperate need of good paying jobs. These economic realities have weakened efforts to protect the region.  For entire article, click here

2010 1111Midwest Mining Rush Part 1

2010 1111 Midwest Mining Rush Part 2

2010 1111 Midwest Mining Rush Part 3

2010 1116 Midwest Mining Rush Threatens Water Part 4

2010 1116 Midwest Mining Rush Threatens Water Part V

2010 1126 Midwest Mining RushPart 6

The Parker Files

Final – Jack Parkers Report of the Kennecott Application (1) (2)

Good evening folks:  After four years of working on it I have put together a summary of what I think of the Kennecott application for a mining permit – and their mining plan.

Rather than bogging down in details I have concentrated on what I believe to be the one most critical problem – that the mine is predicted to be UNSTABLE –  because of incompetent and deceptive design practices and faulty evaluations by the regulating agencies.  The evidence, from the opponents of the scheme and the DEQ experts too (Sainsbury and Blake), supports, without doubt, that the mine, as planned, will be unstable, yet both Kennecott and the MDEQ studiously ignore that evidence and continue to agree that “It is a good plan and we are going to stick with it.”

There are dozens of other serious errors and omissions in the application.  It is fair to label the application “incredibly incompetent”.

Jack Parker

Native Plant Walk along Woodland Road


Proposed Kennecott haul road and North Country Trail
Michigamme Highlands, Marquette County, Michigan
Saturday, August 28, 10 AM Eastern (9 AM Central).

Emily Whittaker, Executive Director, Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve
Steve Garske, Invasive Plant Specialist, GLIFWC

This trip will begin near the southern end of the proposed mining haul road through the scenic Michigamme Highlands. We’ll drive the southern 2/3 of this gravel road. At the north end of the road we’ll take a hike along a seldom-visited and very scenic portion of the North Country Trail. This trail runs through an amazing variety of natural habitats ranging from open rock outcrops to northern hardwood forest and upland white pine and cedar. At the far end of the trail, we’ll visit a forest of  red oak and white pine, where a plant never before seen on an NNPS trip grows in perfusion! This area is also the heart of Michigan’s moose range, so there is a (small) chance that we could see a moose. This trip will also provide a chance to see a little of what the big mining companies are planning for this still-isolated and wild part of the UP.

What to bring: Hiking boots and clothing, bug dope (biting bugs were not bad at all as of last week) water, trail snacks, camera.

Directions: From Bruce’s Crossing, follow M28 and M28/41 east 68.5 miles to County Road FX, also known as the Wolf Lake Road. This road starts 1.5 miles east of the BP station in Humboldt. Follow the Wolf Lake Road north (with a short jog to the east at the beginning) from Hwy 28/41. From Marquette, drive west about 30 miles to Wolf Lake Road.

At the start of the Wolf Lake Road you should see a brown state sign with the words, “Access site – Wolf lake – Brocky Lake”. Go north 3.5 miles along this gravel road, where we will meet up for the rest of the trip. You can park off the road there if you wish to carpool. From here it is another 12.0 miles north along this road to the Dead River. (With reasonable care this gravel road is quite passable up to the river with a passenger car.) From the river we’ll walk 0.7 miles north to the start of the North Country Trail. The walk from the river to the easternmost hill on the trail and back takes about 2 hours at a moderate pace, so plan on 3-4 hours round-trip (including stops along the way).


Contact Steve at:
715-682-6619 x 126 (GLIFWC)


Emily Whittaker

by Thursday, August 26th, if you plan on attending.

“Fish-Advisory” result of Cliff’s Selenium Contamination


Aug. 5, 2010

Contact: Steve Casey, 906-346-8535 or Debbie Munson Badini, 906-226-1352

DNRE Releases Newsletter Detailing Selenium Reduction Efforts and Monitoring in Upper Peninsula

The Department of Natural Resources and Environment has released a joint newsletter with Cliffs Natural Resources, detailing several efforts to monitor and reduce selenium discharge into waters near the Empire and Tilden open-pit iron mines in the Upper Peninsula, DNRE officials announced today.

The DNRE and Cliffs Natural Resources began to partner on the selenium issue after monitoring by Cliffs Natural Resources revealed elevated selenium levels in water discharges from the Empire and Tilden mines, which are partially owned and managed by Cliffs Natural Resources. While selenium exists naturally in the environment and in small amounts is essential to life, in excess it can become toxic to humans, fish and birds.

Key information detailed in the newsletter, which is the second in a series of updates planned by the DNRE and Cliffs Natural Resources, includes the following:

•       Efforts by Cliffs Natural Resources to reduce the amount of the selenium that enters the waters surrounding the Empire and Tilden mines. The company is investigating how to best reduce selenium discharges, with a project already under way that is expected to reduce selenium discharges by more than 10 percent.

•       A recently updated fish consumption advisory for Goose Lake in Richmond Township, issued by the Michigan Department of Community Health. The MDCH has advised the public to eat no more than 12 meals per year, or on average, one meal per month, of northern pike and/or white sucker from Goose Lake, due to elevated levels of selenium found in fish fillets collected from the lake.

•       New data from the DNRE that indicate elevated selenium levels found in fish from water bodies near the Empire and Tilden mines. The levels exceed the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed limits on selenium and may indicate a potential adverse impact on aquatic life.

•       An ecological study by Cliffs Natural Resources evaluating the hatching success of birds that nest in the area surrounding the Empire and Tilden mines. The nests of waterfowl, including wood ducks and mergansers, will be monitored, as well as smaller passerine bird species, including tree swallows, bluebirds, wrens and chickadees. Selenium can have an adverse affect on hatching success; the study will assess whether or not selenium concentrations near the mines are having that affect.

•       A proposal by the DNRE, unrelated to the selenium issue, to reduce the Total Maximum Daily Load of phosphorus loading into Goose Lake to improve water quality. A history of algae blooms, fish kills, low dissolved oxygen levels and odor problems has indicated that Goose Lake is not meeting water quality standards. Goose Lake’s phosphorus problems originated with the discharge of raw sewage into the lake by the city of Negaunee, a practice that was discontinued more than 50 years ago.

“We are pleased to once again be partnering with Cliffs Natural Resources to provide this information to the public,” said DNRE Water Resource Division regional manager Steve Casey. “The selenium issue is of importance to human and environmental health, and we hope the public will take a moment to review the newsletter online to learn more about what the DNRE and Cliffs Natural Resources are doing to monitor and resolve this issue.”

The newsletter can be viewed online at For more information, contact Steve Casey at 906-346-8535.

The Department of Natural Resources and Environment is committed to the conservation, protection, management, and accessible use and enjoyment of the state’s environment, natural resources and related economic interests for current and future generations. Learn more at

Tina Coluccio
Department of Natural Resources & Environment
Water Resources Division & Office of Geological Survey
420 5th Street
Gwinn, MI  49841
Ph:     (906) 346-8520
Fax:    (906) 346-4480

Water for Life

U.N. assembly asserts water rights, some disagree

July 28, 2010

By Patrick Worsnip

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – The U.N. General Assembly asserted a global right to water and sanitation in a resolution on Wednesday, but more than 40 countries abstained, saying no such right yet existed in international law.

Some 884 million people lack access to safe drinking water, more than 2.6 million have no basic sanitation and around 1.5 million children under age 5 die each year from water- and sanitation-linked diseases, sponsors of the resolution said.

The non-binding measure, presented to the assembly by Bolivia, said the right to safe and clean drinking water and sanitation was “a human right that is essential for the full enjoyment of life and all human rights.”

And in a clause that appeared to put the onus of rectifying the situation on rich countries, it called on states and international organizations to “scale up efforts” to provide drinking water and sanitation for all.

The resolution passed with 122 votes in favor, none against and 41 abstentions. The abstainers were mainly developed countries, although European Union members Germany and Spain voted for the measure.

Abstaining countries argued that an independent expert, Portuguese lawyer Catarina de Albuquerque, was due to report to the Geneva-based U.N. Human Rights Council next year on countries’ obligations related to water and sanitation.

They accused sponsors of the resolution of seeking to preempt her findings.

U.S. delegate John Sammis said the resolution “falls far short of enjoying the unanimous support of member states and may even undermine the work underway in Geneva” and charged that sponsors had rushed it through.

British delegate Nicola Freedman said London “does not believe that there exists at present sufficient legal basis under international law to either declare or recognize water or sanitation as free-standing human rights.”

Washington-based advocacy group Food & Water Watch, however, backed what it called a landmark resolution.

“It’s time to reach consensus that the world’s poor deserve recognition of this human right without further delay or equivocation,” it said in a statement that accused the United States of “obstructing recognition of the human right to water.”

(Editing by Eric Beech)

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