Enviro groups will appeal UP mine approval

MARQUETTE, MI – Environmental groups vow they'll appeal if the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality once again approves permits for a nickel and copper mine in Marquette County.

The National Wildlife Federation and local entities filed suit in 2007, saying Kennecott Minerals Company's application contained serious flaws and would hurt the environment. On Tuesday, an administrative law judge upheld their approval.

NWF attorney Michelle Halley is pleased with the judge's recommendation to move the entrance to the mine, which could throw a huge wrench into Kennecott's plan. But she says the rest of his opinion is inadequate.

"We are pretty disappointed with the rest of his opinion, which appears to be not objective, and adopting Kennecott's view of technical issues wholesale, and not reflecting much independent analysis on his part," she said.

Kennecott officials say the decision affirms their commitment to sound environmental practices. They hope to begin preliminary construction activities at the site sometime this year.