The Daily Globe - Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

GTAC deal is a bad one for Iron County, residents

 


To the Editor:

It would take pages to address the reasons Iron County should not agree to the lease option extension drafted January 23rd by GTAC’s lawyers. Here are a handful:

1. The lease is a bad deal for taxpayers. Iron County gets virtually nothing for well over 3,000 acres of land that is absolutely essential to a mine. Thecurrent deal doesn’t even adequately compensate for lost timber sales from the land. Even a tiny royalty payment of 50 cents/ton of taconite would yield Iron County $4 million/year. Minnesota mining companies pay over $2.50/ton in taxes.

2. This 3,000+ acres is a bargaining chip that would force any mining company to sign a local mining agreement withthe county. Iron County has already spent over $130,000 in legal fees to create zoning laws that would bring GTAC to the table. With the acreage now back in Iron County’s control, it has the leverage it needs to force an agreement, without spending another dollar.

3. The lease extension gives Iron County nothing. The proposed extension gives GTAC the next year for free. They only pay if they renew in 2016. How about if they just come back in 2016 and let us know if they’re ready to spend any more money then?

4. Iron County keeps ownership of the land under the agreement despite potentially endless environmental problems. (In Ashland, the city and county are defendants in a $100 million lawsuit over pollution that occurred as long ago as the 1800’s.)

5. GTAC has not been up front or respectful toward Iron County. After everything Iron County has done for GTAC, they now insult the county, suggesting billionaire Chris Cline doesn’t have $10K to pay for this year. (He funneled $700,000 to Scott Walker.) They did this without advance warning or straight answers. Just days before the lease option expired, Mining Committee Chairperson Leslie Kolesar asked if the lease would be renewed, only to hear President Bill Williams repeat twice, “The check has not been written.”

GTAC’s coy gamesmanship is unacceptable. First Williamssaid GTAC was short funds due to Cline’s investments in Canada. He later said they didn’t like the County’s ordinances and didn’t want to throw good money after bad on the lease. But they’ll take a free one-year option. GTAC has proven it will not be a dependable, trustworthy partner going forward.

— Anthony Stella,

Hurley, Wis.

 
 

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