Ashland holds listening session on miningAt a listening session held in Ashland on Saturday, people painted a picture for Wisconsin lawmakers of what life is like for those living in northern Wisconsin and how that may change under the Senate or Assembly mining bills aimed at streamlining state mining laws.
By: By Danielle Kaeding, Wisconsin Public Radio, Superior Telegram
At a listening session held in Ashland on Saturday, people painted a picture for Wisconsin lawmakers of what life is like for those living in northern Wisconsin and how that may change under the Senate or Assembly mining bills aimed at streamlining state mining laws.
More than 250 people came from all corners of the state and beyond, sharing stories. The vast majority came to speak out against the proposed legislation. Those who favor the legislation, like Perry Elsemore of Hurley, spoke about their neighbors living in poverty.
“We need these jobs," he said. "We need to protect our ecosystems and our water, but I think everybody in this room believes that there’s a way to do that responsibly.”
They spoke of family members and friends who moved away for work and the hope of a better life, like Frank Kostka of Ashland.
“I’ve talked to probably 30 to 40 people who are working in North Dakota,” he said. “And why are they there? Because of jobs.”
Those opposed to the proposed changes spoke about their histories, cultures, identities, communities, and their ties to the land and water, like Bad River Tribal Chairman Mike Wiggins.
“You can’t kill our community and send the spirit of our water and everything up into the air and think that Wisconsin is going to be even because over here -– some other place -– might be growing,” he said.
They spoke about their future and what they want to leave behind for their children. Some are settling in for a fight if a mine is built in the Penokee Range.
Other comments included the following:
“You will see some incredible unrest and people who will die for this.”
“It’s going to be one hell of a fight.”
“This mine will not happen here.”
Just under 100 people spoke during the 10-hour listening session. Lawmakers in Madison are expected to vote on the legislation in the coming weeks.
This story is revised from the original to point out that the majority of those in attendance were against the proposed changes in state mining laws.