February 9, 2013 by Rebecca Kemble
Wisconsin’s north woods have been crawling with downstate legislators for the past few weekends as a controversial mining bill hurtles toward a final vote. AB1/SB1, a bill that would massively deregulate iron mining activities in the state, passed out of committee earlier this week.
For the past two weekends, legislators from both parties have traveled up to the Penokee Hills in Ashland and Iron Counties, the site of a proposed 22-mile long, 1/2 mile wide and 1,000 foot deep open pit iron mine, to tour the site and speak with local residents.
The O’Dovero-Flesia farm sits at the base of the hills, within a mile of the first planned phase of the mine. The plan calls for 5.5 million tons of explosives to be dropped on the hills every nine days until the pit measures 4.5 miles long. The family has been farming this 1,000 acre farm for five generations. They raise dairy and beef cows, and operate a meat processing facility. They are deeply concerned about the quality of the air and water should this mine come into operation.
On a visit to their farm last weekend, Sen. Glenn Grothman (R-West Bend) tried to convince them to support the bill and trust Gogebic Taconite. To address their concerns about the 1,000 foot deep open pit draining their 150 foot deep source of water, Grothman told them that the company could caulk the cracks in the bedrock where water was leaking out.
Here is their retelling of his visit: