12.04.13  Meeting Notes – Gogebic Taconite WDNR pre-application meeting

Meeting Notes – Gogebic Taconite WDNR pre-application meeting

Date: December 4, 2013 ~2:30p.m.

Meeting Purpose:  The purpose of the meeting was to hold the WDNR’s statutorily required pre-application with proposed ferrous mine project sponsor, Gogebic Taconite (GTAC).  Specific focus during OP-R participation was on Tribal coordination.

Attendees:  OP-R staff Rebecca Graser participated via phone. Approximately 30 people participated in person, not all of whom were introduced.  Identified persons included Ann Coakley (WDNR), Larry Lynch (WDNR), staff from CCRG (consultant for GTAC) incl. Melinda Young, Mark Dudzik (WDNR), GLIFWC, Tribal representatives (LDF and BRB?), and Tim Meyers (GTAC).

Major Discussion Points:

[A fair portion of the voices during the meeting were difficult to hear]

GTAC consultants CCRG provided an overview on the applicable processes for the proposed mine, including WI statute 4440 (related to the Voight decision?) and WI statute 15770 (WI Burial Sites Protection Act).  Federally applicable Acts include NHPA and possibly NAGPRA, Archaeological Resources Protection Act (Federal Lands), and the Antiquities Act.  It was clarified that the NEPA process includes Section 106 analysis, which would be completed in advance of a Federal permitting decision.  

Loosely speaking, GTAC proposes to evaluate the land use history of the project site (all applicable written records) and complete a Phase I survey.  Depending on the results, further work minimally including a Phase II study would be completed.  It was noted that portions of the site had a draft Phase I report completed.

It was noted that the Federal government is responsible for upholding Tribal ways of life (treaty rights).  Several voices expressed concern that the consultation process had not formally begun.  OP-R clarified that issuance of a permit from our agency constitutes a federal undertaking, and that no application is currently on file to trigger that process.

Additional concerns were raised that the protocol described for locating sensitive features did not include information from the THPO’s.  CCRG noted that consultations require government to government consultation, and that as a business (consultant), they were unable to participate in that manner.  OP-R is not clear if the proposed project sponsor is interested in independently engaging the Tribes in support of an EIA.

OP-R was asked if consultation should be expected for bulk sampling activities.  OP-R staff responded that our agency was not aware of the need for a DA permit associated with the proposed bulk sampling.  Additional questions were asked related to the spatial locations where consultation may occur.  OP-R clarified that we were not aware of where a proposed DA permit would be needed, and did not have sufficient information to determine what the scope or federal control would be.  

The general sense OP-R perceived on the phone was that the Tribal interests present were not confident that their positions on a given proposal would be adequately addressed.