Testimony At Hurley Hearing Mostly Against Bulk Sampling


Update: The hearing has ended.

Testimony by more than 50 people at today’s public hearing in Hurley ran mostly against bulk sampling in the Penokee Hills.

The ratio appeared about 10 to one against allowing Gogebic Taconite (GTAC) to do bulk sampling in the ongoing hearing.

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Most of the people testifying were individuals representing themselves. They expressed concerned about polluting the Bad River and Lake Superior watershed, and the possibility of asbestos-like fibers in the rock.

Notably absent were mining industry and business groups like the Iron Mining Association of Wisconsin and Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce.GTAC did not testify, but as they filed the application, so a GTAC spokesman says that’s enough.

The lack of support for the mine here in Hurley, considered the heart of the pro-mining constituency and headquarters for GTAC, doesn’t mean the support isn’t there. One local official here says many pro-mining people have their minds made up, and don’t see the point of attending this Department of Natural Resources hearing.

This is just the beginning of the state process. A decision by the DNR on bulk sampling will take another two months. If it’s approved, GTAC could begin bulk sampling as early as October. But the DNR says even though the new law speeds up the process, actually getting a permit to mine the Penokees would be at least two to three years away.

Ultimately, the DNR will make its decision on whether or not they think GTAC can safely remove 4,000 tons of rock – in some cases using explosives – without polluting the Penokees and the Lake Superior watershed.

Meanwhile, federal agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency and Army Corp of Engineers will have its own process and timetable in permitting the mine.