MADISON, Wis. — State Sen. Robert Jauch questioned why Gov. Scott Walker chose to sign Wisconsin’s new mining bill on Monday so far from the counties that would be affected by a Gogebic Taconite mine.
Walker signed the controversial mining bill Monday in Rhinelander and Milwaukee, “neither of which are located near the Penokee Mountain range,” Jauch pointed out.
The Assembly overwhelmingly passed the bill last week, sending it to Walker for his signature.
Jauch, D-Poplar, noted late last week that the Oneida County Board of Supervisors last year adopted a resolution opposing mining.
The Gogebic Taconite mine would be located in the Penokee Range near Upson, on the border of Iron and Ashland counties.
There seems to be much confusion about the location of the proposed mine. The Associated Press erroneously reported last week that it would be located on the shore of Lake Superior, although the proposed mine is at least 15 miles from the lake.
Last year, the Oneida County Board voted to discontinue further talks regarding a proposed mining operation in the county’s township of Lynne, Jauch noted.
“It is strange that Gov. Walker has selected a county that has expressed concerns and rejected a mining project as a location to showcase Wisconsin’s new mining law,” Jauch said.
“It is also quite puzzling, but not surprising, that Gov. Walker has decided to celebrate the new law in communities located 110 and 350 miles away from the proposed mine site, instead of allowing citizens in the affected area to participate,” he said.
“One would think if the Governor were so proud of the bill, he would choose to sign it in Hurley or Mellen, two communities most economically impacted by the project. Apparently, he thinks it is good politics to talk about the mining bill everywhere, except in the location where the mine project would occur,” Jauch added.
There has been support for the legislation in Iron County, but strong opposition in Ashland County.
“There is a good reason that Gov. Walker is avoiding the area. He knows of the overwhelming opposition to the legislation and to the project itself. The Governor and Republican lawmakers ignored the pleas of citizens most affected to adopt amendments to protect our rivers, streams, lakes, and wetlands, and instead genuflected to the demands of a coal company (that has) already reneged on promises to help taxpayers,” Jauch said.
“Illusion and pretension about job creation in the near future have fueled the two-year mining debate and the locations the Governor chose to sign the bill highlight the fact that it is more about politics than people,” Jauch said.