WisPolitics is reporting on a press release
from Bill Williams, President of Gogebic Taconite, LLC saying that they are shutting down their office in Hurley.
GTac will be closing our office in Hurley, Wisconsin effective March 1. We will continue to investigate the possibility of pursuing a permit to mine the Upson site but cannot justify maintaining an office in Hurley without a prospect of immediate action.
Our extensive environmental investigation and analysis of the site has revealed wetland issues that make major continued investment unfeasible at this time from both a cost perspective and given the uncertainty of recent US EPA actions, such as the events concerning the Alaskan Pebble Mine.
This is a victory. Recall that GTAC donated $700 K to Governor Walker's campaign in return for letting a mining lobbyist rewrite Wisconsin's mining regulations. The mine was to be sited in the Bad River drainage upstream from the Bad River reservation and the estuary containing its precious wild rice beds. As I wrote in an earlier diary...
Mines and mine tailings leach chemicals that can poison both surface and groundwater and even the best-engineered containment systems are not fool-proof (alas, we have no shortage of fools). The mining legislation was written by mining interests to grease the skids for a massive new mine with as little real oversight as the miners and their republican enablers thought they could get away with. Apart from gouging a jagged 4-mile scar across the Penokee range (among the most pristine areas of Wisconsin), having a mine of the scale proposed and the tailings it will generate perched in the upstream reaches of the Bad River drainage is a sword of Damocles suspended over the heart of the Bad River Ojibwa. Civilized and honorable people do not do such things to one another.
Changing the law spurred GTAC into action moving towards the permitting and testing needed to begin mining. It also motivated a dedicated and motivated band of anti-mining activists, notably members of the Bad River band of Lake Superior Ojibwe and their native brothers and sisters and a group that called themselves Citizens Concerned About the Proposed Penokee Mine
. These Davids gamely fought the GTAC Goliath with all sorts of citizen activism including construction of a harvest camp near the mine site.
There are likely other drivers here, like the fact that the price of iron ore is evidently dropping but tonight I'll simply enjoy a little bit of good news in Wisconsin. At least for the time being, the Bad River and its precious estuary are free of the menace. At least there is one less threat to the magical waters of Superior.
I'm raising a glass to the victors tonight...