G-Tac backs outThe dust is still settling after an iron ore mining reform bill failed yesterday in the state senate.
By: By Mike Simonson, Wisconsin Public Radio, Superior Telegram
The dust is still settling after an iron ore mining reform bill failed yesterday in the state senate.
For people in the area of the proposed Penokee Range mine in far northern Wisconsin, there is little celebrating.
Mellen Mayor Joe Barabe still hopes a compromise mining bill proposed by senators from both political parties can be passed to bring mining jobs to his town. But he said his neighbors can’t stomach the Republican-backed Assembly bill.
“We understand the land’s going to be raped, and that’s called mining. But we didn’t know we’d get raped too. And that’s called the Assembly bill. I’m pro-mine but I’m not this pro-mine.”
With no bill to speed up the iron ore permitting timetable, mining company Gogebic Taconite said it will stop its efforts. They have not answered interview requests, although their office in Hurley remains open.
Bad River Tribal Chairman Mike Wiggins said stopping what he calls a bill that would have destroyed their Lake Superior watershed is a credit to grassroots activism and social media.
“With the tools that are here for people to communicate and share information, I don’t know if G-Tac and the others understood that, and that people weren’t going to drink the Kool-Aid of jobs, jobs, jobs that they were promising,” Wiggins said.
Wiggins said they’re not celebrating at Bad River. He said even if G-Tac goes away, they’ve got lots of work to do.
“This was a wake-up call,” Wiggins said. “If G-Tac has gone away, the fact is the ore is still in the ground and Bad River is going to continue to build its war chest to defend itself.”
Democratic State Sen, Bob Jauch of nearby Poplar said this isn’t the first time G-Tac has threatened to leave Wisconsin.
“It’s a tactic that is unfortunate because it further inflames an already very difficult issue,” the senator said.
Jauch doesn’t know if his compromise bill will be resurrected before the senate adjourns next week. But he said a mining reform bill is needed for another company, and another day.