On January 3, 2013 Susan Hedman, the USEPA Regional Administrator for Region 5, received a letter in her Chicago office from Dan Wyant, Director of the MDEQ. In the letter, Wyant states, “This letter serves as formal notification that due to the short time frame allowed by statute and the complexity of the issues remaining, the Michigan DEQ is not issuing a permit for Marquette County Road 595.” If the project were to be attempted again the permitting authority would transfer to the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act (CWA). However, Road Commission Engineer-Manager Jim Iwanicki said in a Mining Journal article on January 4, 2013 the necessary County Road 595 project permit will not be pursued through the Army Corps. Rio Tinto will not reattempt the CR 595 route and has shifted focus and funds to a route that will incorporate CR AAA, CR 510, CR 550, and Highway 41.
The CR 595 saga has been heavily scrutinized for quite some time. After reading through all of the public comments the EPA released a letter on December 4, 2012 stating the agency lifted a previous objection to the road commission’s alternatives analysis for the County Road 595 project, but reaffirmed its objection on minimization of impacts and compensatory mitigation plans for impacts to wetlands, streams and wildlife. If the project had gone through, 24.3 acres of pristine wetlands would be filled, fragmentation would increase, and habitat for endangered species would be disrupted. The folks here at the Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve are celebrating this major victory after much hard work and persistence. We would really like to thank everyone who took a stand on the road issue and especially Catherine Parker for her personal dedication. We greatly appreciate the effort and it has paid off!