We knew it was coming. Wisconsin State Journal reporter Ron Seely had done a 3-part series on the proposed (threatened?) iron mine near Mellen in the northernmost part of the state. The editorial page would surely comment. (Hell, they would surely approve of it.)
“Allow mine with safeguards,” they whispered.
It was official. This highly controversial mine had won the heart of the Wisconsin State Journal.
You might suppose that falling in love with an iron mine 300 miles to the north could be difficult. The environmental track record for mining — let’s be honest — is somewhere between shameful and worse. Even the economic history of mining has only mine owners as winners, never the miners, never the mining communities.
Would this ‘modern mine’ (sic) be different? Yes! they say,
It’s a grand economic opportunity, no doubt…
It’s a gamble, no doubt. Other mines have been economically disastrous for their regions, even mines in the same upper Wisconsin region. But the editorial writers are ready to ignore all that. They simply assert: “It’s a grand economic opportunity, no doubt….” But there is doubt.
Then there are fears for wildlife and wetlands and drinking water as documented in their own 3-part report. The editorial waves ’em away:
Surely there is a way to achieve both those goals in our North Woods. Surely we are capable of creating hundreds of quality jobs in a region desperate for employment opportunities without destroying the natural resources that in many ways define that region.
But no. There is honestly no “sure” way to dig the mine and preserve what they have right now. The people of the region may ultimately want to take the gamble, but they could definitely lose Big, and for hundreds and hundreds of years. The Wisconsin State Journal editorial board is opining strongly about an area of the state where they do not live, and they reach their conclusion by simply waving away parts of their own reporter’s work.