Former Congressman Bart Stupak says, now that a sulfide mining project is moving forward in Marquette County, companies have been eyeing parts of the western Upper Peninsula as well. That includes areas near Menominee, Stupak's hometown.
"You're really in a watershed of the Menominee River, which is shared by Michigan and Wisconsin. It's the boundary between the Upper Peninsula and Wisconsin. And I'm very concerned."
Stupak says the state's regulations for sulfide mining are "untested." The method has never been used before in the state.
He says Michigan doesn't have enough people to enforce the regulations. He also says mining companies should be required to set aside a lot more money for environmental cleanup, in case any problems occur.
The nine-term Democrat did not seek re-election last fall. In a rare interview following his resignation from office on Interlochen Public Radio, Stupak also described today the escalating rancor he's seen in Washington.
"You saw it when we were doing the healthcare vote," he says. "People would walk over to go vote, they would be spit on. Racial slurs were directed at minority members as they walked over to go vote. The ugliness of politics has only been gaining momentum."
Stupak was encouraged by a new tone struck after the tragic shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, in Tucson, a woman whom Stupak says doesn't have a mean bone in her body.
But Stupak also says he has little hope of lasting change at the nation's Capitol.
The Upper Peninsula Congressman chose not to run for a 10th term in office last fall after his family received death threats.
As health reform was passed, Stupak angered people on both sides of the abortion debate.
Listen to the full interview here.