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Bad River wants feds, state to stop Penokee mining activity now
The Bad River Tribe has asked the federal government to step in and stop all mining activity in northern Wisconsin’s Penokee Range. Mike Simonson reports.
They also plan to file a lawsuit next month against the state to stop rock sampling there.
Large trucks began carrying away tons of rock samples from two sites in Iron County this week. Bad River Tribal Chairman Mike Wiggins says that has to stop. So in a letter last Friday to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, he’s asked them to step in. He says the heavy equipment removing the rock without a construction permit violates state and federal policy.
“We requested the EPA to get involved in this portion even though it’s the bulk sampling phase. Yeah, we think the impacts and generally speaking, the lack of data and the lack of science surrounding what’s occurring right now indicated that somebody had to be guarding the gate.”
In fact, yesterday a Bad River warden temporarily halted a truck carrying rock samples for a safety inspection. Wiggins says run-off from the rock sampling in the Penokees could damage the creeks, rivers and wetlands there. GTAC says as long as the ground is frozen, it won't impact the environment.
“This isn’t a cross your fingers and hope you don’t poison the water. This is something that needs to be monitored, needs to be looked at scientifically and we’ve got to have those things in place.”
Wiggins isn’t stopping there. He says Bad River is considering suing the state of Wisconsin to stop all mining activity.
“When you look at the anti-degradation implementation that should be occurring and the free-for-all pass that GTAC’s been given, we think there’s definitely some ample fodder for litigation as far as how the state is implementing that umbrella of authority that the EPA has granted them.”
Wiggins expects the decision on a lawsuit to be made next month.
Large trucks hauling rock samples from two sites in the proposed iron ore mining site are rolling along Highway 2 through the Bad River reservation Tuesday. One of the trucks was stopped by a Bad River warden. Wiggins says they had safety concerns about the truck and what it was hauling.
“Our warden stopped that truck because of some drainage issues out the back of the gate. Also for some of the safety concerns he had at that time. And so it was briefly detained.”
Gogebic Taconite is sampling rocks in three sites in Iron County and trucking a total of 2400 tons of rock to Minnesota’s Iron Range for testing. The work is expected to last a few days in two sites but it could be longer on a third site.
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