The Fight for Water & Treaty Rights in the Great Lakes

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Public Comment Period Open for U.S. Steel Corp.- Minntac | MN?>

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) announces their receipt of an application for a permit to continue the operation of a waste tire storage area and a land treatment area for petroleum contaminated solids/sludge and to maintain the closed industrial solid waste landfill.

Public Comment Period Begins: July 30, 2013

Public Comment Period Ends: August 29, 2013

U.S. Steel, Minnesota Ore Operations is a taconite plant on Minnesota’s Iron Range. It produces high-grade iron ore pellets for use at integrated steel mills. Approximately 70% of the ore processed is sent to the tailings basin for impoundment. The U.S. Steel, Minnesota Ore Operations has a 7,900 acre tailings basin that is divided into smaller cells that range in size from 100 to 400 acres. The closed industrial solid waste landfill and the original solids/sludge land treatment area are located in Cell A-2 of the 7,900 acre tailings basin located north of the taconite processing plant. A new 6 acre land treatment area will be located on top of an overburden stockpile located in the NW 1/4 of the NW 1/4 of Section 6, Township 58N, Range 18W. Waste tires are generated by mining operations and are stored on site until enough are generated to send them off-site for recycling. The waste tire storage area is located on the southeast corner of the Central Shop in the area of the taconite processing plant.

The industrial solid waste disposal area is approximately 10 acres in size and is closed. Construction of the final cover system for the landfill was completed in 2012. No additional acceptance or disposal of industrial solid waste or demolition debris is permitted in this area. The landfill was closed with approximately 490,039 cubic yards of waste and coarse tailings in place. U.S. Steel–Minntac will be responsible for maintaining the final cover system of the landfill.

For the full text of this announcement and information on how to submit your comments, click here.

For more information on this and other MPCA notices visit,

WaterLegacy Files Lawsuit over Mesabi Nugget Variance?>

Re-Posted from Read the full post here.

06.03.13 |  WaterLegacy, represented by Paula Maccabee, filed suit in Minnesota Federal District Court asking the Court to overturn as “arbitrary and capricious” the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) decision to allow the Mesabi Nugget iron plant a “variance” from complying with water quality standards.

Similar lawsuits were filed by the Fond du Lac and Grand Portage Bands of the Lake Superior Chippewa.

The EPA variance would allow Mesabi Nugget to violate water quality standards for total dissolved salts, bicarbonates, hardness and ionic conductivity, although these pollutants can harm the aquatic food chain and natural stands of wild rice. Both Mesabi Nugget and regulating agencies agree that water pollution treatment is feasible and commercially available to provide compliance with water quality standards.

In explaining the litigation to news reporters, WaterLegacy explained, “What we are really saying is that Minnesota water quality standards apply to everyone, including the mining industry, and that the standards should be applied and enforced rather than making exceptions for the convenience of the industry.” Read more about the case on Minnesota Public Radio’s web site.

Learn more by reading WaterLegacy’s Complaint.

More than Dusty Historical Documents: Treaty Rights in the Penokee Hills?>

An excerpt from an excellent article by Ron Seely on treaty rights and the proposed GTAC project. Read the full article here.

THE PENOKEE RANGE – The fight over the fate of a massive iron ore mine has moved this summer from the state Capitol in Madison to the forests of northwestern Wisconsin and the green, undulating ridges along which Gogebic Taconite wants to dig its 4½-mile-long pit.

National and state news coverage of the mine has focused on a traditional Ojibwe encampment deep in the woods, about 30 miles southeast of Ashland, at the very edge of the proposed pit. From the rustic camp, started by members of the Lac Courte Oreilles Chippewa band, tribal members have launched what seems a cultural offensive – think fry bread, wild onions and birch bark baskets – to turn public opinion against the mine.

But organizers of the camp say it has an even deeper purpose.

Tribal officials and a treaty law expert say the Iron County camp, dubbed a harvest camp by Ojibwe, or Chippewa, lays the foundation for a possible legal case in which the tribe would invoke federal treaties.

Their goal: Block construction of the mine.

…”the harvest camp is helping make real the practices the treaties protect, including collecting food and natural medicines, from wild onions to mushrooms to maple syrup and tamarack bark,” said Glenn Stoddard, a lawyer who represents the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa.

Organizers of the camp also are inviting non-tribal members to visit so they can show them the wild Penokee landscape and the proposed mine site.

“Many people aren’t even aware of the treaties,” Stoddard said. “They haven’t been educated about them. Also, society has become much more urban so the activities covered by the treaties are foreign to people.

“The camp is intended to educate people about these things. It is one thing to be in a courtroom talking about the treaties. It is another to be out in the woods and see people exercising their rights. Then it makes sense to people.”

Read the full article here.

Positions Open on Mining Investment & Local Impact Board | WI?>

07.26.13 | Wisconsin Department of Revenue Announces Process to Apply for Investment and Local Impact Board

CONTACT: Laurel Patrick, 608 266-2300

The process is underway to gather applications for membership to Wisconsin’s Mining Investment and Local Impact Board. The Mining Investment and Local Impact Board is a statewide board established to administer the Investment and Local Impact Fund, which is created to help municipalities offset costs associated with impacts of metalliferous mineral mining. Once the process of appointing members to the Board is complete, the Board will have eleven members, three of which are public members.

Public members interested in applying for the three public member positions on the board may go to the Governor’s website,, and click the “Apply to Serve” button, then click “Boards/Commissions”. The Governor will appoint the three public member positions to the Board. Wisconsin statutes specify that the following residency requirements must be met with regard to the three public members:

  • One of the public members shall reside in a town in which a metalliferous mineral ore body is known to exist.
  • One of the public members shall reside in a county in which metalliferous mineral development is occurring, or in an adjacent county.
  • One of the public members shall be recommended by the town boards in towns in which a metalliferous mineral ore body is known to exist, with preference to the appointment of a public member who resides in a town in which the development of a metalliferous mineral ore body is occurring.

The Wisconsin Department of Revenue is the state agency responsible for administratively assisting the Mining Investment and Local Impact Board.

View the official press release here.

Honor the Earth & the Indigo Girls Announce Concerts?>

September 6-8, 2013 | the upper Midwest

HONOR THE EARTH and the INDIGO GIRLS would like to announce 3 very special acoustic duo shows to benefit HONOR THE EARTH.

Sept. 6-Madison, WI @ The Capitol Theater
with special guest, KELLY JACKSON

Sept. 7-St. Paul, MN @ O’Shaughnessy Auditorium

Sept. 8-Washburn, WI @ Lake Superior Big Top Chautauqua
with special guest, KEITH SECOLA

IGs and HTE have chosen to play in Wisconsin and Minnesota to support the current movements in this region against extreme mining practices and destructive fossil fuel development. For more information visit the Honor the Earth website at,

Rio Tinto Sale of Eagle Mine Finalized?>

Rio Tinto announced June 12, 2013, that it had sold the Eagle Mine, located near Marquette, Michigan, to Lundin Mining. The sale of the underground copper and nickel mine was subject to regulatory approvals. That sale is now complete. The portal to the ore body is located beneath Eagle Rock, an Anishinaabe sacred site. Many people are concerned about the risk of acid mine drainage from the mine. The sulfide ore body containing the minerals lies directly below the Salmon Trout River. You can read more in the following articles.

Rio Tinto Sells Eagle Mine, The Mining Journal

Eagle Mine Sale Finalized, The Mining Journal

Lundin Mining Announces Closing of Acquisition of Eagle Mine…, Junior Mining

Mine Effluent Treatment Technology & Financial Assurance?>

Thursday, July 18, 7-8:30pm | North Shore Campus of Higher Education, Grand Marais, MN

Presenter: Dr Margaret Watkins, Water Quality Specialist, Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa

Will Sulfide Mining come to NE MN? If so, what are the nuts and bolts of mine waste treatment? The presentation will raise questions and discuss key points around this controversial issue. The key points that will be addressed in this presentation include: How is financial assurance related to long-term water treatment options? What water treatment options have been tested in NE Minnesota mining projects? What water treatment options could be applied to Copper/Nickel mine projects? How do they work? Where have they been tested? And how effective are mine effluent treatment technologies?

Margaret Watkins has been employed as the Water Quality Specialist for Grand Portage Reservation since 1996. Margaret has fourteen years of experience reviewing existing and proposed mining projects in northeastern Minnesota.

For more information visit the Cook County Higher Education Facebook page at,

Public Comment Opp from the Lake Superior Binational Forum?>

Re-posted from the Lake Superior Binational Forum website.

The Lake Superior Binational Forum would like to know your opinions about mining operations in the Lake Superior basin. The purpose of this survey is to help the Forum learn more about the perspectives of those who live, work in, or visit Lake Superior communities in the basin. Your responses will help the Forum make informed recommendations to binational agencies and governments about how to address potential mining impacts. The 12 questions will take about 4 to 5 minutes to complete.

Click here to take the survey.

The Trust Summer Fundraiser?>

UPDATE 07.31.13 | Thank You to all who contributed. Your support is greatly appreciated. If you missed our IndieGoGo campaign and would still like to make a donation, click here.

Our summer fundraiser was hosted on IndieGoGo, an online crowdfunding site for independent filmmakers, artists and entrepreneurs. You can visit our campaign page here. We didn’t quite make our goal, but we’ll still be out filming this summer! Donations will go towards:

  • Food, Lodging & Transportation for the crew
  • Equipment Rentals
  • Production Insurance

Together we can make Trust  happen! Thank You!

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