Letter: Local representative ignores environmental hazards by Richard Zoerb
(Letter to Representative Rob Swearingen)
As an informed voter and constituent of yours, I wish to express my disappointment in your support of the open-pit mining bill recently passed by the state legislature. As a Realtor, who in the practice of my profession often promotes the benefits and qualities of the lifestyle we enjoy in northern Wisconsin to prospective buyers, this bill, written primarily by and for the benefit of the Gogebic Taconite Company, places the interests of a Florida mining company over the health of our families and future generations of Wisconsinites. I am deeply concerned that you would take this position as a representative of the Northwoods.
I find it absurd that a person found discharging their laundry water onto the surface of the ground could be subject to penalties, yet a mining company, which will now be allowed to discharge contaminated waste tailings into the beautiful lakes and streams, is not. Anyone who believes open-pit mining can be done in an entirely safe and environmentally responsible manner, I believe, is unfortunately misinformed. One only needs to look to the neighboring state of Minnesota to see the devastation which has befallen their land and the empty promises of many high-paying jobs due to open-pit mining. The jobs created by mining are temporary; the scars upon our earth are permanent.
I recently viewed the documentary film Coal Country at Treehaven. In the group discussion which followed, I learned that taconite mining is responsible for generating high levels of mercury poisoning, second only to coal mining. I’m deeply disturbed by the thought of the many potential health and environmental concerns the Gogebic Taconite mining venture will most likely create.
Governor Walker’s slogan “Wisconsin is Open for Business” is commendable. However, decisions of this magnitude must be thoroughly vetted to ensure they are environmentally responsible, make fiscal sense, do not compromise the health and safety of our citizens, nor be offered to whoever happens to be the highest bidder.
In the future, it is my hope that you will more carefully weigh the decisions you make that so deeply impact our health, our environment and our tourism economy.
Richard Zoerb, Rhinelander