In December 2011 a local Michigan resident and the Sierra Club filed a court action against the Mascoma cellulosic ethanol plant (Frontier Renewable Resources) planned for Kinross Charter Township in Chippewa County. The multiple claims alleged that, since a $58.5 million federal grant is involved for the project that an environmental impact statement (EIS) was required under federal law.
The suit acknowledged that an environmental assessment was performed, but challenged as erroneous the finding of “no significant impact.” Listing impacts on air quality, forest health, degradation of wildlife and fisheries habitat, and reduction of visual and recreational quality likely to result from projected harvest of 2,800 tons of hardwood logs per day, the suit sought to enjoin the Frontier project unless and until a complete EIS is prepared. The federal district judge recently dismissed the lawsuit, finding environmental and health issues had been adequately considered, that mitigation projects would adequately account for wetland impacts, and that no endangered species were involved. Meanwhile, everyone in Michigan is wondering when construction will begin.© 2014 Varnum LLP