The Fight for Water & Treaty Rights in the Great Lakes

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New Bill Would Update 1872 Law?>

The Hardrock Mining Reform and Reclamation Act of 2015 was introduced on February 13th by House Natural Resources Committee Ranking Member Raul Grijalva (D-AZ-3). The bill would rewrite the 1872 law governing the mining of gold, copper, uranium and other hardrock minerals on federally managed lands.

Read the full Earthworks article at,

Minnesota’s Mining Not an Economic Panacea?>

“Mining could be a huge economic boost for the state, say proponents of an iron ore mine in northwestern Wisconsin. But it hasn’t been a cure-all for the big iron ranges of Minnesota and Michigan.” Read the full article by Milwaukee Wisconsin Journal Sentinel writer, Lee Bergquist here.

Mine Dewatering and Groundwater Levels?>

Mine Dewatering and Groundwater Levels

INFOgraphic | How mine dewatering affects groundwater levels. | Groundwater flows from aquifers into the ore pit, reducing the quantity of water available to local springs and wells. The size of the area affected by this drawing off of the groundwater is determined by the area’s geology and hydrology.

More than Dusty Historical Documents: Treaty Rights in the Penokee Hills?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

The General Mining Act of 1872?>

The General Mining Act of 1872 is a U.S. federal law that governs mining on federal public lands. It gives hard-rock mining precedence over other uses of federal land regardless of the consequences. The law set the price per acre of land claimed at $2.50-$5.00 per acre and hasn’t changed since. Attempts were made to reform the law in 2007 and 2009, but failed. Michael P. Dombeck, a former chief of the Forest Service, explained to a Senate committee in 2008,

“it is nearly impossible to prohibit mining under the current framework of the 1872 mining law, no matter how serious the impacts might be.”

For more information on a law in serious need of reform, check out the New York Times article at the link below.

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