MADISON, Wis. — Resistance to the Aquila Resources Back Forty Mine project has grown steadily over the past few years, and members of the Wisconsin Legislature have taken notice. 

On Thursday, State Senator Dave Hansen (D-Green Bay) and Representatives Amanda Stuck (D-Appleton), Jeff Mursau (R-Crivitz) and Eric Genrich (D-Green Bay) introduced a bipartisan Joint Resolution opposing the mine project along the Menominee River in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, following in the footsteps of many municipalities who have voiced their opposition due to environmental, cultural and economic concerns. 

The resolution contains references to the potential long-term effects which could be caused by pollution from the mine, including the loss of natural resources, species habitats and clean water; the possibility of hazardous wastes degrading water quality and causing risks to human health; the loss of Native American cultural sites and areas of historical significance; and the loss of tourism revenue and reduction of property values along the Menominee River and other affected bodies of water. 

The LRB 3922 Joint Resolution is currently out for review and support, which the legislators sponsoring it are sure it will receive. 

“We’re calling on the State of Michigan to oppose this project, and for the Wisconsin DNR (Department of Natural Resources) and Gov. Scott Walker to voice their concerns about this proposal,” Hansen said. “Bipartisan opposition to the mine is growing in Northeast Wisconsin.” 

Hansen said the main concern of Wisconsin residents and legislators is that the state feels the impact of what happens to the Menominee River, but “we kind of feel like we’re on the outside looking in.” 

Stuck and Hansen both said they had heard repeatedly from their constituents that the proposed open pit metallic sulfide mine, set back 150 feet from the Menominee River, has the potential to pollute the river, Green Bay and the Great Lakes as a whole. Several municipalities, including Brown County, Marinette County, the City of Peshtigo and the City of Marinette have passed resolutions opposing the mine, and Hansen said Door County is expected to take up discussions on the issue in the near future. 

In addition to the economic and environmental concerns, Stuck said she has heard from several Native American tribes in the area about the damage the mine could cause to the ancestral home and sacred sites of the Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin. 

As to whether the State of Michigan would listen to its neighbors’ concerns, Stuck said she hoped the action would “send a strong message.” 

“We are concerned about it, and it’s the very least that representatives can do to stand up for our people and make their voices heard,” she said. “It’s better to do that and have nothing happen than if we don’t even try.”