- Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation
- A potash mining project is slated for an area above a large marsh in Osceola County.
Despite a legal setback, opponents of a proposed potash mine in Hersey, Mich., say they're not backing down.
The group Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation filed a legal challenge to permits issued by the Department of Environmental Quality for potash mining wells in Osceola County.
MCWC board member Ken Ford, who lives near the site, argued this was just the latest setback in what he called a long, uphill battle.
"This whole handling of this affair by the DEQ is total obfuscation. They have done everything possible to deny the public information regarding this project," Ford said. "And they've been delinquent actually taking a good hard look at the site, putting it in perspective and coming to reasonable conclusions."
The DEQ said that, of the opposing comments received during the permit review, none included any "matters of fact that would require the denial of the applications" under Michigan law.
Potash is used as fertilizer. And supporters of the project have said it would make Michigan the nation's leading domestic source. Opponents argue creating the mining wells will draw up to 2,000 gallons of water per minute from nearby aquifers.
Doug Miller, who lives next to one of the marshes that would be affected, added residents also are concerned about pipeline leaks and groundwater contamination.
Ford noted the community already got a glimpse into what could come should the project move forward. He said Michigan Potash and Salt Company did not install silt fences after stripping topsoil from a 12-acre site in November 2018.
"Silt was washing off this exposed topsoil site and running into the largest freshwater marsh in Osceola County," Ford said. "It's home to trumpeter swans, bald eagles; all of which the DEQ denies — as did the Environmental Protection Agency — exist in this area."
MCWC's appeal will now go to the Environmental Permit Review Panel.
The Department of Environmental Quality was renamed this year. It is now called the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy.
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