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      New board appointed in Rio Tinto agreement

      The Rio Tinto Eagle Mine and the Superior Watershed Partnership are working closely to minimize the mine's environmental impact. Recently, the Marquette County Community Foundation has appointed a board of four people to act as a neutral third party between the two organizations to promote cooperation.Mining operations begin in 2014 at the Rio Tinto Eagle Mine, and when they do, the Superior Watershed Partnership will be keeping a close eye and release public reports. Rio Tinto is paying the partnership $300,000 a year for their services in a rare act for a mining company."That would be like someone coming into your house and looking in your closet, then publicizing that information to the entire community and world to know that all that you say is perfect in your house is indeed not," said Nancy Wiseman Seminoff, the new Chairwoman of the Community Environmental Monitoring Project Board. Seminoff is also a member of the Community Foundation.In September, Rio Tinto, the Community Foundation, and the Partnership signed an agreement that they would appoint a third party to be fund holder and mediator. They created the Community Environmental Monitoring Project, or CEMP, Board. In November, the Community Foundation appointed Seminoff as chairwoman of the board along with Lawrence Carey for his environmental experience and Richard Aho for his mining experience. Pam Christensen was appointed as a community representative. There is also a fifth vacant spot for a Keweenaw Bay Indian Community representative."It appears that Rio Tinto is serious in entering into this agreement so that it can be as transparent as possible," Seminoff said. It's a transparency that Jon Saari, environmental activist and former history professor at Northern Michigan University, thinks should be taken advantage of to ensure as little impact to the environment as possible, but he thinks it may not be enough."We need to have more say. We're dealing with a David and Goliath struggle against a huge worldwide enterprise," said Saari.Saari believes that mining companies are disruptive outsiders, but with the Partnership and the Community Foundation cooperating with Rio Tinto, it makes the mine socially acceptable to the general public."It's the man in the street, it's the civil elite in the society that they need to persuade," Saari said.Saari and Seminoff both agree that they wish the mine will come and go with minimal natural impact."My hope for this effort is that 20 years from now we will not even know hat Rio Tinto has been here," Seminoff added.Seminoff and the CEMP Board maintain a healthy skepticism and emphasize that they only advocate monitoring, not mining.