DNR sifts through comments on mine sampling
While the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources sifts through comments about sampling 4,000 tons of rock in a proposed mining area of northern Wisconsin, they are also waiting for a reply from the mining company.
Although most of the 500 to 700 emails, letters and public hearing speakers came out for or against an open pit iron ore mine, DNR Waste Management Director Ann Coakley says they won't tally that number.
"I don't know we're going to produce that because the reason to have the public hearing was to get comments on the bulk sampling plan."
Coakley says they're looking for specific environmental impact.
The DNR is looking for things like "deficiencies in Gogebic Taconite's bulk sampling plan or information regarding resources in a specific area such as unnamed or unmapped streams in some of the outstanding and exceptional resource waters in the area, Coakley said"
She says they will also consider comments on the Public Trust Doctrine in the state constitution, which protect navigable waters and could trump the new iron ore mining law.
But other answers will come from G-Tac itself. She says they're waiting for the company to reply to an Aug. 13 letter seeking more information on things like storm water run-off or air quality.
Democratic State Rep. Janet Bewley of Ashland says she's concerned about the impact of what she calls "mini-mining" on the Penokee Range. But she says G-Tac's conduct during rock sampling will also be telling.
"It is going to show the people of the North exactly what mining could look like and how communities are going to be treated by Gogebic Taconite," Bewley said. "Every time they do something that digs another inch deeper into the soil of the North, we learn more about how they operate."
A final decision on allowing bulk sampling could be another two months away.