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Wis. Lawmakers Tour Proposed Northern Mine Site

Posted at: 01/25/2013 6:24 PM
Updated at: 01/25/2013 9:52 PM
By: Maarja Anderson
manderson@wdio.com

On the heels of the heated joint public hearing on mining in Madison Wednesday, 12 State Assembly members from all over the state traveled to northern Wisconsin to tour the proposed mine site in the Penokee Hills.

Six democrats and six republicans trudged through the snowy woods of Montreal, WI, touring the possible new mine site, as well as the old Montreal Mine site, which was shutdown in 1962.

Tour guide and chairwoman of the Iron County Local Mining Impact Committee, Leslie Kolesar, had the lawmakers drink water from the stream coming from the old Montreal mine shaft, showing the water quality has not been degraded because of the mine.

The tour was a much smaller and quieter event than the heated public hearing on Wednesday.

"It was kind of a kangaroo court, it was a sham because they didn't let us ask questions of the DNR and bill authors," said Rep. Brett Hulsey of Madison.

Many of those questions they said they couldn't ask earlier, however, were asked again and more directly on this northern tour.

"We need to know what's in the rock on top and those core samples should be released and be made available," Rep. Penny Bernard-Schaber of Appleton said.

Organizer of the tour, Rep. Mary Czaja of Irma, said this legislation is just the beginning for the region.

"It guarantees the process to start and I think that's what we really need to get going so people of this area have a sense that there will be employment opportunities and have prosperity," said Rep. Czaja.

Others touring saw an opportunity sitting in the hills.

"I believe we have a mine right here. Let's figure out a way to get this high grade ore to market rather than stripmine one of the most beautiful places in Wisconsin," said Rep. Hulsey.