Attorney: Federal mediator to listen to CR 595 debate next month

Published: Feb. 13, 2017 at 10:15 AM EST
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The Marquette County Road Commission, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and a court-appointed mediator will discuss the proposed County Road 595 project next month, according to a road commission attorney.

The road commission filed its expected notice of appeal with the 6th U.S. Circuit of Appeals last Thursday. The commission continues to get free legal help from the Pacific Legal Foundation.

The road commission wants to create a more direct route for mining trucks in northwestern Marquette County between the Eagle Mine and its processing mill, but 25 acres of wetlands must be filled to build the new road.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency objected to the environmental impacts. The road commission sued, but that lawsuit was denied by federal Judge Robert Holmes Bell last May. Bell also denied the road commission's motion for reconsideration in December.

Mark Miller of the Pacific Legal Foundation says attorneys from both sides of the case and a mediator appointed by the appeals court will discuss a possible settlement over the phone on March 6.

Jim Iwanicki, the engineer-manager for the road commission, says this is the first time the proposed road will go before a federal mediator.

If no resolution is reached, Miller says both sides would file briefs with the federal appeals court in Cincinnati.

Miller says under President Donald Trump's administration, the EPA may start "acting reasonably." Trump's nominee to head the EPA, Scott Pruitt, has been a vocal opponent of what he calls "unnecessary EPA regulations."

Watch tonight's TV6 News for more details on what's ahead for the long-debated project.