Letter: Mining claims exaggerated; concerns were overlookedLast week’s letter writer — “Politicians swiped welcome mat for doing business” — should check the facts.
By: John Hyland River Falls, River Falls Journal
Last week’s letter writer — “Politicians swiped welcome mat for doing business” — should check the facts.
How could the writer expect us to believe that a huge open-pit taconite mine in northern Wisconsin would greatly benefit the state?
Without any supporting facts, she states that opening such a mine would create 9,000 jobs paying “at least $60,000 a year.”
The writer also says the project would cause no major environmental harm because “most taconite mines . . . release little contamination.”
Obviously such a mine would have some economic benefits, but it almost certainly would cause extensive environmental damage.
Numerous Internet reports refer to hundreds of air- and water-quality violations committed by companies extracting taconite in Minnesota and Michigan.
These companies have emitted tons of mercury into the air and have discharged acid and coal ash that has killed aquatic life in many lakes and rivers.
Between 2004 and 2011, nine taconite mines have been fined $790,000 and ordered to complete clean-up plans costing $9.1 million.
No such mines exist in Wisconsin, and Gogebic, which proposed to open the first one, promised that its operations would be completely safe.
However, the company that owns Gogebic has never extracted taconite. It has operated numerous coal mines in Illinois, and much of these operations have been reckless.
It was cited 25 times for violating water-quality standards in four mines and 19 times in a single mine.
This casts serious doubts on Gogebic’s promise to Wisconsin. And there’s evidence that Gogebic didn’t believe its own promise because it asked the state Legislature to pass a bill allowing it to fill wetlands and dump toxic waste if necessary. Fortunately, 17 senators combined to defeat the bill.
Was the letter writer aware of all of these facts, or simply ignoring them?