More insight continues to surface as the Marquette County Road Commission and Kennecott Eagle Minerals continue to push for their planned County Road 595. The Road Commission submitted a permit application for this road in late 2011 with subsequent resubmittals, which plans for the road to begin just east of Eagle Mine on the Yellow Dog Plains. The proposed route would run south from there for about 21 miles, passing through numerous watersheds and impacting high quality waterways, until it reaches its terminus near the Humboldt Mill. You can read more about the proposed project by clicking on our other post at: http://www.yellowdogwatershed.org/blog/2012/04/16/federal-comments-on-cr-595/
Both the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials came out against the project in March 2012, stating that the project posed too much harm to the aquatic resources than was necessary. The agencies also noted that the primary beneficiary was in fact Kennecott Eagle Minerals, while the applicant clearly states that they believe it is a public road for the public good. Subsequently, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued a statement in late April stating that the project should not be permitted because of undue harm to aquatic resources. The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality is expected to make a decision on whether to grant the permits sometime later this summer.
In the meantime, the Road Commission has applied for and has been approved for funds to help with the 595 project. Grants from the Transportation Economic Development Fund has earmarked $2.6 million dollars of state tax money to go toward paving part of County Road AAA, as well as County Road 601 near the Humboldt Mill. The AAA section slated for pavement starts directly outside of the mine entrance and continues to the point where the proposed 595 road would begin.
In this group’s opinion, using state dollars to pave a road for a private international company that has set up shop to remove our minerals and take the profits with them is outrageous. The stated goal of the Transportation Economic Development Fund is to support projects that help retain jobs. While jobs will be created by this project, they surely will not be retained since the mine itself is a relatively short term project. The program also states that projects should be non-speculative. Considering that a permit to construct 595 might not been issued, the approved funds would end up paying for two strips of paved road that do not enhance anything at all. This is not what tax payer money is for.