Mike Simonson Reports On Hurley Mining Hearing

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Mike Simonson Reports On Hurley Mining Hearing

Premiere Date: 
August 15, 2013

WPR's Mike Simonson reports on Thursday's DNR mining hearing in Hurley.

 

Episode Transcript: 

Zac Schultz:

Opposition to a proposed iron ore mine in northern Wisconsin has not slowed down. The DNR held a public hearing Thursday on the mining company’s request to take bulk samples from the site and get them tested. Wisconsin Public Radio’s Mike Simonson has been following this issue for us and joins us from Superior. Mike, thanks for joining us.

Mike Simonson:

You're welcome.

Zac Schultz:

What was the point of the public hearing yesterday?

Mike Simonson:

It was twofold. It was about bulk sampling which involves breaking up 4,000 tons of rock to be able to see what's in it as far as the ore body goes, but also as potential pollution risks, airborne things. And also it was about the intent to mine that GTAC has filed. So it was really a two-fold thing, although most of the testimony was about bulk sampling.

Zac Schultz:

It seemed like it was pretty overwhelmingly against, in terms of the testimony?

Mike Simonson:

It was. Of those who spoke, it was something like 95 against, and nine for. And those who signed up, it was something like 175 people signed up and 41 were for the mine and bulk sampling. But also a lot of people, I think, in Iron County, and this is the heart of the support area for the mine. GTAC's headquarters is in Hurley, too. But a lot of people didn't think it was worth their while to come, where the opponents figured, you know, they want to be heard.

Zac Schultz:

What is the point of this process? Is there a chance that the DNR actually denies this request and the whole mining thing stops here?

Mike Simonson:

The DNR says, yes, it's not a slam dunk. But the opponents of the mine believe it is. In fact, the Bad River Tribe has kind of given up. They didn't have any speakers except for some tribal members, but not official members. They're going to the feds, to the EPA, to the Army Corps. Because they believe the new legislation that was passed this year to streamline the iron ore mining process does not protect the environment, does not protect the Lake Superior watershed and doesn't protect Bad River.

Zac Schultz:

So then the next question is when do we see that first lawsuit to try and put a hold on this process?

Mike Simonson:

Yeah. It might not even be a lawsuit right away. I mean, I think we'll see plenty of that. But I think they're pushing the federal button right now because the EPA has different regulations. And maybe-- One of the things I heard yesterday that surprised me, the DNR said they also have to follow Bad River's water quality standards, which they were given by-- the authority to do by the EPA just a couple years ago. That might also put the kibosh, or at least slow down the bulk mining permitting process, and force GTAC to conduct an environmental impact statement. And that would take a long time, many, many months.

Zac Schultz:

I’m sure you have a lot more hearings in your future. Mike Simonson, thanks for joining us.

Mike Simonson:

I wish you hadn't said that.

Zac Schultz:

Thank you.


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