LANSING, Mich. — The Senate Natural Resources Committee approved land- and water-based measures on Wednesday after hearing testimony from Upper Peninsula residents at locations in both L’Anse and Marquette.
Senate Resolution 49 urges the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to deny the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community’s (KBIC) applications to regulate water quality, which would enable the tribe to establish its own standards and receive privileges related to air quality programs on the L’Anse Reservation.
Sen. Ed McBroom said the resolution includes concerns from private land owners and local officials on how another layer of regulation, that could be even more stringent than existing water quality standards, could impact non-tribal property owners, land-based industries and other permit issues. A primary concern is that nontribal members residing in the jurisdiction would have regulation without representation.
“The Keweenaw Bay Indian Community’s proposal to regulate air and water within its reservation would create additional layers of multijurisdictional bureaucracy, which could provoke conflict and confusion for private land owners and businesses,” said McBroom, R-Vulcan.
“We have to keep in mind that about 65 percent of the land within tribal boundaries is not owned by the tribe, and the regulations the tribe sets could impact property even off the reservation. While we certainly appreciate the needs and values of the KBIC, it is our hope that the EPA sees the potential conflicts of these requests and does not approve the applications. With that said, I am also committed to working with tribe leaders so their concerns about current issues are heard and that a more agreeable solution is crafted.”
The committee also heard testimony on House Bill 4227, sponsored by Rep. Sara Cambensy, which would create an advisory committee to study the future of mining in Michigan and develop recommendations and a report on its findings. The goal of the panel would be to recommend potential public policy strategies and actions that could boost Michigan’s mining industry.
“This is an important step in helping Michigan — and especially the Upper Peninsula — to bolster its mining industry, encouraging it to thrive, create jobs and protect our treasured natural resources for years to come,” McBroom said. “There is broad, bipartisan support for this effort, and I am pleased we can work together to support this historic and important industry in our state.”
SR 49 and HB 4227 now go before the full Senate for consideration.