Plenty has been going on in Marquette County lately with Eagle Mine and the Marquette County Road Commission – and none of it is good. On July 8, the Marquette County Road Commission filed suit with the Environmental Protection Agency over their banning construction of County Road 595. The Road Commission just won’t take no for an answer, and since they’re the road commission, they think they know better than the Environmental Protection Agency how to build a road through acres of federally protected wetlands.
Eagle Mine LLC wants the road built because they’re currently driving trucks filled with ore through residential areas. Their original contract with the state stipulated they would use railways to ship their ore to the Humboldt facility for processing. That stipulation seems to not matter now, because they’re manipulating the people of Marquette County into thinking it’s the big bad federal government putting them in harm’s way with these ore-laden trucks rumbling through the streets when it’s actually the mining company. They want people to believe there is no option getting the ore to Humboldt unless they build a road the EPA has told them they can’t build, forgetting the original deal with the railroad.
State Senator Tom Casperson (R-Hates Nature) fully supports the lawsuit. As the owner of a trucking business hauling for logging companies in the U.P., naturally he supports destroying wetlands for a road that financially benefits him personally.
“The EPA, in its objection to the construction of County Road 595, has once again overstepped its bounds and demonstrated its politically motivated agenda. The agency, without reason or merit, has hamstrung the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality from issuing a wetlands permit for County Road 595 simply because it did not fit the agency’s agenda.
“Make no mistake: It is completely within the authority of the road commission to plan and construct safe and efficient roads and bridges for motorists within the county. Despite the facts that County Road 595 meets a need, would be funded without taxpayer dollars, and constructed in an environmentally responsible manner that the DEQ agrees with, the EPA arbitrarily brought the project to a halt.
“Instead of doing its job and approving the project, the EPA has instead opted for political theater. By blocking County Road 595’s construction, the EPA is doing nothing to improve the access of emergency, commercial, industrial, and recreational vehicles to a key area of northwest Marquette County. From elected officials at the state and local levels, to job providers and labor organizations, to conservationists, public safety officials and the general public, nearly everyone agrees County Road 595 would improve the way of life of county residents.
“I support this lawsuit not only for the reasons I’ve cited, but also because we need to shine a light on the dark actions of the EPA. It colludes with politically motivated environmental groups to make decisions without following proper procedures or holding public hearings. It is an operation run amok, not a government agency of, by, and for the people. I trust that the United States District Court for the Western District of Michigan will see these things for what they are and rule in favor of the people of Marquette County.”
Yes, this is the new “political theater” of the Republican Party. Doing what the people want really means doing what is economically favorable to the interests of a few. When a federal government agency doesn’t give them what they want, that means it’s politically motivated and not at all in the interest of what is best for the environment in the Upper Peninsula.
There’s something else interesting in Casperson’s statement: Who’s paying for the road? The funding to build it won’t be coming from the tax payers according to the road commission. One clue for where the funding is coming from might be the 501(c)(4) organization that raised the money for the Marquette County Road Commission to sue the EPA.
Stand U.P. is a “social welfare” organization responsible for raising funds to sue the EPA. They’re the Marquette County Road Commission pretending to not be the Marquette County Road Commission so they can raise the substantial amount of money needed to file suit with the federal government. The donors to the group of course are private, meaning the road commission doesn’t want the public knowing how much, and who is paying for it. The public face of Stand U.P. consists of former Marquette Mayor Stu Bradley. His most recent accomplishments politically consists of keeping a running tally of how many times he rubs elbows with The Nerd. Deb Pellow is a former county commissioner. Tony Retaskie is a former candidate for the 109th state house district and sits on the board of directors for the Upper Peninsula Construction Council.
Construction Council, Tom Casperson representing the lumber industry in the U.P. and other big business in the region all have a stake in building this road. They claim County Road 595 will help the environment while creating good paying jobs and keep people safer. That of course depends on what else Eagle Mine currently has in development in the area. More about that coming in Act Two of the Eagle Mine Saga.