Monday, August 19th

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A sign expresses a property owner's opposition to Aquila Resources' plan to open a pit mine near the Menominee River in Michigan.(Photo: Paul Srubas/USA TODAY Network-Wisconsin)

Over and over, Michigan environmental regulators sounded alarms as they reviewed a proposed large, open-pit ore mine in the Upper Peninsula near the Menominee River, prized for walleye fishing and a major tributary to Lake Michigan. 

The mine on the Wisconsin border northwest of Marinette would send acidic mining wastes into the river and surrounding waterways, which would then spill into the Great Lake, staff said. More acres of wetlands would be harmed than the mining company was projecting, evaluators found.

Then the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality approved the mine anyway.

At stake in whether the Back Forty Mine proceeds is the potential endangerment of one of the most important rivers in Michigan, part of a system that drains more than 4,000 square miles of the U.P.