The current public relations frenzy over the prospect of open pit iron mining near Ashland casts a chill in the air rivaling that of the January cold.
Environmental impacts attendant to that proposal would be vast and profound. Moreover, they would come at a time when much of the thinking world is reeling over the planetary environmental damage already wrought and seeking to at least ameliorate some of the problems.
Here, in northern Wisconsin, we value the natural environment and what it provides, with many of us choosing to remain here and protect our natural heritage. The removal of miles of landscape, with its trees, meadows, plants, animals, hydrologic features, and the like is an awesome spectre indeed. With several hundred megawatts of electricity required, the mining would necessitate new powerplant construction somewhere or heavier use of the existing grid, spewing more carbon into an already overloaded atmosphere.
Make no mistake: this proposal is market and profit driven, not need based. Any economic benefits would be trickle down and the trickle would freeze when the company's profit line dictated. Many of the much touted jobs would be filled from outside. Much of those wages and all of the profits would be shipped out of the area.
Let's work together to create a sustainable economy, not an extractive, boom and bust, flash in the pan that leaves us with a despoiled environment.