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home : letters : letters November 20, 2014

2/8/2013 6:27:00 AM
Gogebic Taconite mine: Why the rush?

 To the Editor:

Every large metallic ore mine worldwide has caused significant environmental damage. 

Why then are Gov. Walker and his Republican cronies in such a rush to pass AB1/SB1 (formerly Assembly Bill 426), that would seriously weaken existing environmental regulations under, which the largest taconite mine in the world would be allowed to operate in northern Wisconsin? 

Why are the loss of wetlands, the increased release of mercury and acid mine runoff into streams, considered to be a fair trade-off for a few potential jobs? Could the reason be the $11.34 million received by Gov. Walker or the $74,915 received by Sen. Tiffany, the author of ASB 426, from special interest groups supporting mining deregulation?

Let us take a look at a few lecture notes from our Econ. 101 course. Investment companies such as the Florida-based Cline Group, owner of Gogebic Taconite, expect a certain return on their investment. 

What happens if spending money to comply with existing environmental regulations adversely impacts the return on their investment? Apparently the easiest way for Gogebic Taconite to turn a profit is to have the governor and the Legislature toss environmental regulations out the door.

Perhaps our Native American friends will save the rest of us again, as they did when they purchased the mineral rights to the Crandon Mine, saving Wisconsin from that potential environmental disaster. 

The proposed Gogebic Taconite mine is located at the headwaters of the Bad River, which flows through land occupied by the Bad River Band of Chippewa Indians, and then into Lake Superior, one of the most pristine lakes in the world. 

What if a declining economy reduces the demand for taconite? If Gogebic Taconite decides to close with no other company to take over, will the open pit be closed and properly secured? 

Probably not if Ab1/SB1 passes and leaving the cost of the cleanup and restoration of the environment to the taxpayer.

Mine proponents talk about the number of jobs to be created, but do not mention the potential loss of jobs in the tourism/outdoor recreation industry if mountaintop removal through blasting, dragline excavating and oversized truck hauling destroy the UP and northern Wisconsin landscape.  

Are there ways to stop the mad rush to pass AB1/SB1? You can ask your senator or representative in Madison to reconsider and vote “no” on AB1/SB1. 

Please call or e-mail Sen. Tiffany at 608-266-2509, or send an email to Sen.Tiffany@legis.wi.gov; or Rep. Mary Czaja at 608-266-7694 to voice your opposition to the Gogebic Taconite mine.

Richard Brown

Reader Comments

Posted: Monday, February 25, 2013
Article comment by: CJ Lee

The Bad River Tribe has been caught with their pants down, literally and the EPA is enabling and complicit. http://mediatrackers.org/2013/02/25/epa-data-points-to-clean-water-act-violations-by-bad-river-chippewa

Posted: Monday, February 18, 2013
Article comment by: Derek Nelson

If there is any hope to stop the complete destruction of our way of life and the tourism industry in the Northland then Republican state senator Robert Cowles from Green Bay and his constituents are who you should be talking to.

He is probably one of the last sensible Republicans in the state who won't be manhandled or intimidated into voting for something he doesn't believe is in the best interests of Northern Wisconsin.

This whole mining thing is a complete charade. The Cline Group has neither the experience nor the capitalization to ever build this mine. Walker needs the illusion that he is for jobs and the Cline Group needs to sell the mining rights to some other bag-holder and quick.

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