A delegation of Native Americans from northern Wisconsin was in Milwaukee Tuesday, trying to share their concerns about the large iron ore mine proposed for Ashland and Iron Counties. State lawmakers will soon start a second year of debate over whether to change mining regulations.
Critics of the expected bill say the measure is likely to weaken environmental protections for ground and surface water and a help open a large taconite mine not far from the Bad River Chippewa reservation near Lake Superior. Bad River tribal chairman Mike Wiggins, Jr. is sharing his worries with the media and community groups in Milwaukee. He says he knows the Milwaukee area is home to several mining equipment makers, "But here's the thing. We're down to talk on levels of humanity. Appealing to the humanity of corporations face rough challenges."
Last week Governor Scott Walker toured companies that say they could benefit if the taconite mine opens. One of those firms is Phoenix Products, a Milwaukee company that makes high-intensity floodlights for mining shovels and draglines. CEO Scott Fredrick says economic development is needed, and he thinks the DNR would protect northern Wisconsin, "I'm up there all the time, and I love the area. The DNR has learned from Minnesota and Michigan and they've really cleaned it up."
Bad River leaders says some mines in those other states are polluters, or are a different type of operation than the massive mine planned for Iron and Ashland Counties.