Lawmakers in Madison are debating the definition of “responsible mining” while people living in northwestern Wisconsin are wondering whether a potential open-pit mine there would be at all responsible. A mining forum was held Thursday night at Northland College in Ashland.
The mining panel voiced concerns to a crowd of about 200 on everything from greed to safeguarding Wisconsin’s environmental protections. Mike Wiggins, Jr. was among them. Wiggins is the tribal chairman of the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa. Wiggins calls lawmakers’ attempts to revise and fast-track state mining legislation a corporate giveaway, “They’re trying to make it as porous as possible so that what goes in automatically comes out and that is essentially a mining application to move forward.”
Wiggins says the Bad River tribe is under an incredible threat with the possibility of Gogebic Taconite once again pursuing a permit to mine. He says the tribe would like to see recognition from lawmakers in their debate over mining legislation, “Recognition of the sovereign nation that is downstream when we talk about the Penokee mines and GTAC and ultimately the governor and the federal government honoring treaty rights and doing the right thing.”
The right thing, Wiggins says, is to declare the Penokee Mountains and the Bad River Watershed unmineable.