March 10, 2015

"Ben Connors steered through the fog."

Vice News "At the end of a hot, summer afternoon, ripe wild rice kernels fell before him into the bottom of a canoe." By Lois Parshley

'Just upstream from Connors, a company called Gogebic Taconite (GTAC) proposed to blast and dig a 1,000-foot hole in the ground in order to tap iron ore deposits, a $1.5 billion dollar projects. While some welcomed the promise of jobs, others worried it would threaten the fragile rice sloughs, as well as the headwaters of Lake Superior — home to 10 percent of the world's fresh water.

'After three years of heated argument over the project, the company announced last week that it is closing its office in Hurley, Wisconsin — effectively putting the mine on hold. This is welcome news to local activists at the Harvest Education Learning Project, who for two Wisconsin winters have camped outside in protest. It's also good tidings for the Wisconsin Federation of Tribes, who brought the local fight to the federal level last summer when they asked the Environmental Protection Agency to stop the mine under the auspices of the Clean Water Act.

'In a public statement last week, GTAC president Bill Williams cited EPA regulations as the primary reason for the company's about-face. He also said that the mining location turned out to have more wetlands than the company had initially foreseen. "It's unfortunate that the federal requirements for mitigating wetlands make it cost-prohibitive for Gogebic to move forward at this time," Williams said.

'Although the mine may be halted, GTAC's legacy in Wisconsin will remain. Governor Scott Walker came under fire last year when documents revealed the degree of GTAC's campaign contributions. The filings show that the company contributed $700,000 to the Wisconsin Club for Growth, which in turn supported Walker and his Republican allies.'

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