October 21, 2019
MCWC Appeals Potash Decision:
It’s not accurate to describe the Administrative Law Judge’s decision as a green-light for
Michigan Potash Company. The judge did not rule on whether the eleven injection-well
permits were legal or not, nor did he even look at any information about the project or its
site. He merely decided that he simply lacked jurisdiction to consider the matter, based
on a rule suggesting that a request should have been submitted to the Supervisor of
Mineral Wells first. Since we did submit such a request and since that request was part
of the official permit record compiled by EGLE, we have appealed the dismissal and the
case will now go to the Environmental Permit Review Panel. The upshot of all this is
that, for the past year and a half, no one in Lansing has been looking into the serious
issues involving Michigan Potash’s plan and site.
In addition, that decision dealt only with permits to drill eleven injection-wells. Additional
permits will be required pertaining to the location of a refinery, high-pressure brine
pipelines and handling facilities, shipping routes, storage, etc. Nor has the company
performed any tests to establish that they can safely withdraw 5 to 10 times more fresh
water than Nestle is taking six miles away (which is already causing serious harm).
This project appears to be facing many headwinds: Low potash prices (glut due to
worldwide overcapacity), a problematic site, lack of rail-access, and distance from the
U.S. agricultural heartland, to name a few. Previous companies gave up on mining
potash here for some of these same reasons, even prior to the glut in production
capacity. P.R. efforts can distract from these underlying problems, but they can’t make
them go away.
In light of all this, people ask us why we’re continuing our fight: In short, we believe that
we have no choice. High risk, intensive industrial activity at such a uniquely vulnerable
site is not something we’re willing to accept without a fight. Michigan already has far too
many areas that have become “water sacrifice zones”. As Michiganders, we view fresh
clean ground and surface waters as our birthright!
Peggy Case MCWC President