The Department of Natural Resources has denied an appeal from the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Ojibwe to stop exploratory drilling in Iron County.
The Penokee Hills could soon be the site of an open pit iron ore mine, should opposition fail to prevent its development.
The decision was made public today.
Bad River contended that the impact of drilling was not fully considered during the 10 days which the DNR had to decide on whether or not to allow Gogebic Taconite (GTAC) to drill. DNR waste management director Ann Coakley says the drilling will continue.
“We didn't find anything in their letter that would cause us to halt the drilling. We still believe that Gogebic Taconite has met the requirements of the law for exploration. We did issue them a license and we're not planning to revoke their license unless they don't follow their drilling plan.”
Bad River Tribal Chairman Mike Wiggins says the DNR looked at the small picture. He says the impact of drilling is much larger.
“And to be honest, to experience the absolute absurdity and insanity of watching a drilling rig go down into the Earth when everybody there understands that everything we look at that drilling site — everything that we experience, all the trees, every drop of water that may be around — is all slated for explosion.”
GTAC is drilling its first bore hole in Iron County now. It’s expected to be finished in a few days. After that, at least another seven holes will be drilled in Iron and Ashland Counties.
Wiggins doesn’t expect to take legal action but says it is an option.