Date of Award


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Environmental and Energy Policy (MS)

College, School or Department Name

Department of Social Sciences


Carol A MacLennan


Public participation is an important component of Michigan’s Part 632 Nonferrous Mining law and is identified by researchers as important to decision-making processes. The Kennecott Eagle Project, which is located near Marquette, Michigan, is the first mine permitted under Michigan’s new mining regulation, and this research examines how public participation is structured in regulations, how the permitting process occurred during the permitting of the Eagle Project, and how participants in the permitting process perceived their participation. To understand these issues, this research implemented a review of existing mining policy and public participation policy literature, examination of documents related to the Kennecott Eagle Project and completion of semi-structured, ethnographic interviews with participants in the decision-making process. Interviewees identified issues with the structure of participation, the technical nature of the permitting process, concerns about the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality’s (DEQ) handling of mine permitting, and trust among participants. This research found that the permitting of the Kennecott Eagle Mine progressed as structured by regulation and collected technical input on the mine permit application, but did not meet the expectations of some participants who opposed the project. Findings from this research indicated that current mining regulation in Michigan is resilient to public opposition, there is need for more transparency from the Michigan DEQ during the permitting process, and current participatory structures limit the opportunities for some stakeholder groups to influence decision-making.