December 5, 2012
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced yesterday, December 4th, that they are both removing and upholding objections to the permit for County Road 595. The objection over whether the Marquette County Road Commission did an adequate job analyzing the alternative routes was removed. The objection over whether the Road Commission supplied an adequate Compensatory Mitigation Plan was upheld.
Originally, the EPA came up with their objections in April 2012, with the consultation of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The main issues they saw with the project was the potential for damaging impacts on aquatic resources, a lack of information regarding alternatives analysis, and the project purpose was too narrowly defined. After allowing the permit applicant to resubmit information regarding the EPA’s concerns, as well as holding a public hearing and soliciting public comments, they have now supplied their decision letter. Along with the decision letter was a document listing the requirements that applicant needs to satisfy their only remaining objection over the Mitigation Plan.
That letter states that the applicant will be required to supply more information, such as a long term management plan for streams and wetland mitigation, secured mineral rights of wetland preservation area, a stewardship agreement with a third party whom will maintain the proposed preservation area, and demonstrated financial assurances for construction and long term management of aquatic resources.
The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality has 30 days to satisfy the objection by either denying the permit or issuing a permit for the application that contained a sufficient Compensatory Mitigation Plan. If the MDEQ does not act within that time period, the permit application would then be transferred to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
“For those of us who were, and still are, very concerned about the full impacts this project would have, we are glad that at least one objection has been upheld,” states Emily Whittaker, Executive Director of YDWP. “We particularly are interested to see how the applicant will respond to the numerous requirements needed before the permit can be issued or work started. We also request the chance to review the additional documentation that would be supplied for the project’s Compensatory Mitigation Plan.”
For more information on the EPA’s action, visit their website at http://www.epa.gov/region5/water/cr595/. This website has the documentation including the EPA’s letter to the MDEQ, the EPA’s list of requirements for the mitigation plan, and all past documents regarding the project.