Here is my testimony, such as it is, from the listening session today on the proposed Penokee taconite mine. Thank you, Senator Bob Jauch, Rep. Janet Bewley, Rep. Nick Milroy, Senator Dale Schultz and your peers who took the time to listen to us today. And to everyone who turned out to bear witness against this injustice.
I live with my husband, Jordan, in the foothills of the Penokee Mountains in the Marengo/Sanborn area on the Bad River Watershed. Twenty-four years ago, when we decided to start a family, we knew we wanted to raise our children here in the north woods of Wisconsin. We had both spent time here, Jordan having lived here in Ashland and in Marengo previously, and had fallen in love with the area.
Growing up in towns on the Mississippi and Illinois rivers where the joke was “if you put your hand in the water, when you pulled it back out, it would be gone” (because of the pollution), I knew what a precious resource clean water was. And it was, and still is, here in abundance.
It wasn’t because of the employment opportunities we wanted to live here; it was because of the clean waters, the lovely gently rolling hills, many acres of forest land, the wildlife; the pristine environment. And, of course, the friendly people.
Over the years we may have had to scrape to get by at times, but we never regretted our decision to make our home here.
I stand here before you today to tell you that if this mine goes through, I fear for the health of our children, our grandchildren, their children, and for the wild things that can’t speak for themselves. It’s been said before, but it bears repeating, once we let this genie out of the bottle, we can never put it back. And never is a long time.
I would like to close by paraphrasing a wise woman I heard speak at the hearing in Madison last month. She asked why is it “take this mine or screw you, go ahead and starve”? Why is that our only option? Why can’t we develop other, safer job opportunities in our area?