Environmental groups call for transparency regarding exploratory drilling

Feb 17, 2017

MARQUETTE, MI--   Citizens deserve to have more input on what happens to public land. 

Jon Saari

That’s what environmental groups are saying, after the Michigan Department of Natural Resources allowed Orvana Resources to do exploratory drilling in Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park.  The DNR issued a press release a day after the drilling commenced.

Jon Saari is a board member of the Upper Peninsula Environmental Coalition and a member of the Mining Action Group.  He says that’s not enough notice, and that the public has the right to comment on what happens to a state park.

“It’s a real gem.  It should not be treated in this fashion.  The public should be able to express themselves about what these special places mean to them.”

Saari says while a mine would create jobs in the area, they wouldn’t last long.

“And they do create some short-term jobs, but we’re concerned about the landscape that’s remaining after the mining is done.  Usually these are sacrificial areas that are never going to come back to what they were before.”   

Saari says Michigan’s “outdated” laws favor the owner of the mineral rights in a piece of land rather than surface rights, and environmentalists want to change that.  He notes his groups are meeting to talk about short- and long-term strategies to deal with drilling exploration issues.