Bad River tribe turns to federal government to stop mine
The federal government is being asked to stop any more mining activity in the Penokee Hills, exploratory or otherwise.
When a new iron ore mining bill passed the state legislature last winter, Bad River Tribal Chairman Mike Wiggins figured his best bet to protect the watershed leading to his reservation and Lake Superior was through the federal government. He says the Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers have more integrity than the new state law.
"Bulk sampling is a joke and was actually a mining company construct that they got in the state law," says Wiggins.
Wiggins says bulk sampling is the beginning of mining by Gogebic Taconite (GTAC), and he wants an environmental impact statement before GTAC does any digging or uses explosives in the Penokee Hills.
"We're into the start of GTAC trying to get down into the earth, trying to get started on exploding, and we're going to engage heavily at the federal level," he says. "Let's put a stop to this madness."
Wiggins says Bad River will not sit by and watch the state go ahead while they believe federal regulations are bypassed. So they're reaching out to federal agencies to step in. "There's no silver bullet to protect ourselves. We have to utilize a myriad of different entities and resources."
The Department of Natural Resources says although the new state law doesn't require an environmental impact statement, the old state law didn't either.
The state is holding its first of two required public hearings in the mining permit process in Hurley today. The meeting will be streamed live on WPR.org.