Groups expect to pack hearing on mining billMeetings, potlucks and even a dance are rallying troops to turn out for the only “up north” public hearing on an Assembly mining bill Wednesday in Hurley.
By: By Mike Simonson/Wisconsin Public Radio, Superior Telegram
Meetings, potlucks and even a dance are rallying troops to turn out for the only “up north” public hearing on an Assembly mining bill Wednesday in Hurley.
Ashland-area groups opposed to the mining bill expect to turn out 200 people, enough to fill the 200-capacity Hurley Inn auditorium. Pete Rasmussen of the Penokee Education Project says it isn’t a game of numbers though. It’s about presenting arguments.
“What I want to hear are good questions from this committee. I want to hear them asking questions about the difference between the old shaft mines of Hurley and an industrial-sized open pit strip mine,” he said.
Supporters of a proposed iron ore mine in the Penokee Range of Ashland and Iron Counties also want to turn out 200 people. Iron County Development Zone Director Dale Kupcyck says things aren’t as divisive as they seem.
“You’ve got this 10 percent who want it no matter what it costs, probably 10 percent who don’t want it no matter what. But you’ve got 80 percent who are willing to work with the state and say yes, if we can do it cleanly, let’s do it,” he said.
Others, maybe another 200, aren’t against mining but think the bill is the pits.
“My wife just said that as she walked by. She’s right. It’s a mess.”
That’s Mellen City Councilor Pete Russo. Mellen will see mining trucks on its roads and pressure on its utilities if a mine is built. Russo will tell the Assembly Jobs Committee the bill doesn’t look out for area towns.
“We’re interested is in the infrastructure. That’s the main point. See, we don’t have the money to fix these roads in the city if they get ripped. We don’t have the money if something happens to our water system. We don’t have it.”
The hearing begins at 10 a.m. Wednesday and will continue until the last person is finished giving their two-cents worth.
The hearing will be broadcast live on Wisconsin Public Radio stations KUWS 91.3 FM and WUWS 90.9 FM.