Freshwater Weekly 3/15/18
This week: Budget bills undermine clean water + U.S. agencies say Michigan sulfide mine permit insufficient + funding opportunities.
THIS WEEK’S ACTION: BUDGET “RIDERS” UNDERMINE CLEAN WATER PROTECTIONS
The 2018 Senate and House appropriations bills contain add-ons (we call them “riders”) that threaten the safety of U.S waterways. Riders are attached to larger pieces of legislation because they’re so unpopular they’d never pass by a vote on their own.
One of these riders allows the Trump Administration to repeal the Clean Water Rule without a clear rationale and without due consideration of public input. This rider would also block the courts’ ability to review the agencies’ repeal action as potentially “arbitrary or capricious.” Two others make it easier to degrade wetlands and waterways that are critical for flood protection, water quality, and fish habitat, by creating confusion about exempted activities and allowing polluters to dump dredged or fill material.
GOOD NEWS! FEDERAL AGENCIES QUESTION BACK FORTY SULFIDE MINE PERMIT
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Army Corps of Engineers, and the Fish and Wildlife Service sent a joint letter to the state of Michigan identifying key deficiencies in the wetlands permit submitted by Aquila Resources for the proposed Back Forty mine. The proposed sulfide mine would be located on the Michigan side of the Upper Peninsula’s Menominee River.
The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) has been given 90 days to resolve eight pages worth of objections or deny the permit. As written, the permit application is not in compliance with the Clean Water Act. If Aquila Resources and the DEQ fail to adequately address concerns or provide the requested information, the authority to process the permit will be transferred to the Army Corps of Engineers.
We’d like to congratulate two of our member groups and Freshwater Future grant recipients, Front Forty and Mining Action Group of the Upper Peninsula Environmental Coalition. Their hard work evaluating and exposing flaws in the Aquila permits is evident in the joint letter, which included many of the same critiques and criticisms as the public comments submitted by these two groups.
FUND YOUR PROJECT WITH A FRESHWATER FUTURE GRANT
One of the most important ways Freshwater Future protects Great Lakes waters is by making grants to grassroots groups working throughout the region to protect the waters in their communities. We’re now accepting grant applications through April 10, 2018 from grassroots groups engaged in local advocacy efforts to protect shorelines, inland lakes, rivers, groundwater, drinking water, and wetlands in the Great Lakes Basin.
You can find all the details you’ll need to get started applying for a grant—including the request for proposals—here on our website. And if you’re not part of a grassroots group in need of these funds, help us spread the word by forwarding this email to someone who is. If you have any questions, email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
MORE WAYS TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE
There are lots of simple ways to help protect our waters. Find more at freshwaterfuture.org/take-action.