February, 9, 2013
My name is Bruce Noble. I’m proud to be accompanied by my grandson, Zac. I represent Grandparents Against Sulfide Pollution – we call it GASP.
There are two kinds of gasps. One comes in awe, like water gurgling over sun-capped rocks in Copper Falls State Park. The other comes in horror, like hiking to the top of a pristine mountain in the Penokee Hills only to bear witness to a rape.
I attended the Wisconsin Assembly mining meeting last Wednesday. It felt like an elementary school argument. You cheated! Did not! Did too! As a retired teacher, used to adjudicating such debates, I believed the “you cheated” argument.
The Superior Telegram newspaper reported that mining companies contributed more than $15 million to pro-mining politicians in Wisconsin in 2012, most coming from Chris Cline, CEO of the Cline Group, and owner of Gogebic Taconite.
I come to Ashland to partner with those who value saving the Iroquoian idea of “prosperity” embedded in the U. S. Constitution. The long and moral view that we should not simply entertain what is easy in the present but what nurtures our descendants Seven Generations down the road.
Do I worry about the depressed economy in the North? Of course, I do. I grew up in the Great Depression in a house built above an abandoned deep shaft mine. But I also sat at the bedside of a dying 50 year old friend, brought down by Mesothelioma from one summer’s job handling industrial asbestos. Thirty years later, that job didn’t pay off.
Just think what 35 years of sulfide pollution will bring? Gogebic Taconite’s $1.5 Billion investment of greedy pollution-tainted dollars will dwarf any pittance received by the good people of the North.
Mike Wiggins, Chairman of the Bad River Band of the Lake Superior Chippewa, calls it “genocide” and I agree. Taconite mining is just a long repeated scenario of government/corporate exploitation of land, water and people in the interest of a short term bonanza.
Then there’s the lie of reclamation after the pit is played out and the bonanza is depleted. In Kentucky, where open-pit mining ripped off the top of the Appalachian Mountains, they say: reclaiming land and water is like giving back purity to a raped virgin. It can’t be done.
Why doesn’t Gov. Walker use the $400+ million 2012 budget surplus to invest in green jobs in the North? That would be progress.
I’d like to take some poetic liberties with Malcolm X’s wonderful ironic metaphor about “progress”. Mining in the Penokee Hills is like sticking a knife in someone’s back 9 inches, pulling it out 4.5 inches and calling it progress.
This is a fight for morality. Will we live ethically or will we die from greed and lack of empathy. And remember the core corporate interest is not mining but changing Wisconsin environmental regulations to gain absolute control over Great Lakes water.
God help all the grandchildren and bless the Penokee Hills.