Gogebic Taconite’s mine proposal isn’t the only topic the state’s Chippewa tribes plan to discuss when they meet with the EPA this week.
Sokaogon Chippewa Community Chairman Chris McGeshick says the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative is also on the agenda.
McGeshick says the initiative hopes to focus its dollars within Great Lakes basins, but he hopes to clarify that the tribes can apply for other projects as well.
“I believe there’s just too much impact within the basin that comes from outside of the basin –whether it’s purple loosestrife, or zebra mussel issue. These aquatic invasives can come to the basin from outside of the basin.”
McGeschick says communication between the agency and the tribes is sometimes an issue.
At a conference presentation this month, the Bureau of Indian Affairs revealed an upcoming deadline of August 15th for budget allocations from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. McGeshick says he objected to the late notice for the deadline, and the fact that it came prior to this week’s meeting with the EPA. McGeshick says tribal officials petitioned to get that deadline extended by one week.
“We are as tribes we should be viewed like states are, and in the government to government consultation, this is one area where as tribal leaders, I would have liked to have more information ahead of time. And if there’s a deadline it should not just be something that’s approved by the agency, but something that’s run through the tribal governments as well.”
McGeshick says the tribes meet with EPA’s head of Great Lakes region, Susan Hedman, several times a year.
Wisconsin’s six Chippewa tribes are also asking the EPA to intervene and stop the Penokee mine proposal from moving forward, saying it poses too great a risk to downstream resources.