Is the Northern Michigan Geologic Repository Association a public body under Michigan FOIA

The question from a story in the Marquette Mining Journal:

MARQUETTE – Marquette County Circuit Court Judge Thomas Solka heard oral arguments Thursday on a case involving whether the Northern Michigan Geologic Repository Association is a public body subject to producing financial information under the Freedom of Information Act.

The association is important to plaintiffs in the case because it was created under state law requirements by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, which makes it a public body by extension, the plaintiffs contend.

The association in question is the Northern Michigan Geologic Repository Assocation, described on a Michigan DEQ site as follows.

The Geological Core and Sample Repository holds a
collection of drill core and cuttings from 67 counties
in Michigan, including all 15 counties from the Upper
Peninsula. The purpose of the collection is to act as
a "rock library" and make the collected material
available to individual researchers and industry for
geologic study. It is hoped that the collection will
lead to increased mineral and fuel exploration and
development in various parts of Michigan. Both the
local and state economies may benefit by more jobs
being created.

The plaintiffs contend:

"The murky facts surrounding the Northern Michigan Geologic Repository Association exemplify the need for the Freedom of Information Act and the purpose for which it was enacted: to shine a light on the actions of government officials which directly impact the citizens whom they purport to represent," said Jana Mathieu, the plaintiff's attorney.

More details from Save the Wild UP:

Near the Upper Peninsula District Office of the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) in Gwinn, this map taped to the wall of a large warehouse labels the facility a “State Warehouse.” Core samples are stored within, but the DEQ claims no further association with NMGRA, the non-profit that has leased the warehouse and is attempting to raise money to make it a state geologic repository.


 

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