Northern Mayors Ask For Watershed Protections


Several elected officials from Ashland, Bayfield and Washburn are urging legislators to pass mining legislation that leaves in place protections for the Lake Superior watershed. But instead of holding the news conference up north, they stood before reporters today on the state Capitol steps.

The seven elected officials wanted to send a message now, before the seemingly fast-track Republican bills get a vote.

Ashland Mayor Bill Whalen says they want to protect Lake Superior from the proposed Penokee iron ore mine. Whalen says he is currently dealing with a $130 million Superfund waterfront clean-up from the 1900s, when there was no legislation.

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“So what we don’t want is 40 years from now some poor mayor, tribal chair, or city administrator, he has to deal with the same thing. So it’s very important that the legislation do the job it’s supposed to, so we don’t have these costs.”

Washburn Mayor Scott Griffiths agrees. He says the current Republican bills do not protect their communities and fresh water.

“I believe that ‘prove it first’ is a really good message. Show us that this will be done safely and then I will believe you, because Lake Superior is nothing to experiment with.”

Bayfield Mayor Larry MacDonald says the Republican legislation doesn’t have to be thrown out completely but needs lots of work.

“I’m not against mining, I’m against anything that would damage Lake Superior. And for all intents and purposes, AB1/SB1 is designed to pollute Lake Superior.”

The press conference was also attended by members of the Ashland City council and Bayfield County Board member Beth Meyers.

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