I would like to provide my take on the most recent Mining Oversight Committee meeting.
There are two fundamental problems with the thinking of the committee. The members claim that they need more information, and must lease the property in order to understand the issue. They also claim that this is about exploration. It is frankly outrageous that after nearly three years of “studying” this issue that the committee continues making these bogus claims. It seems to me that the taxpayers deserve an honest assessment of what is being proposed, considering we have been paying for this mess.
Mr. Baier claims that he doesn’t know “what the public hearing is going to be about.” He wants to lease the land first for exploration. I would direct Mr. Baier to the Tamerlane presentation that he and three other committee members were present for back in the summer of 2010. Under “Tamerlane’s Interest” we were informed that the “deposit is known and is potentially available for lease” and the “corporate objective is development, not exploration.” Leasing the deposit gives the leaseholder the exclusive right to pursue mining permits, and since the “deposit is known,” the only reason to lease it is for mining.
The committee should have started three years ago by examining the Noranda failure and the multitude of environmental issues at the site. Ignoring the environmental and socioeconomic issues at Lynne, and then claiming ignorance, is simply unacceptable, and is why this process should be stopped.
Recent reporting on this meeting raises two concerns. Lynne Broydrick, who argued that “I don’t think the mining companies, quite frankly, have enough information,” was identified as “one member of the public.” She has actually been representing Tamerlane for some time now. It is not surprising that she agreed with Mr. Baier that the Lynne site should be leased first. Tracy Benzel of Iron County said he wanted public comments to be limited. Why would someone from Iron County come to Oneida County and argue for limits on public comments regarding an issue pertaining to public lands in the county?
Let’s be clear. There are a small number of people in our county government who are increasingly pushing a mine without public scrutiny. They are proposing leasing a public resource which lies under county forest lands in a watery area upstream from the Willow Flowage for the purpose of sulfide mining. What makes this especially dangerous is that there are elements in our state government pushing for weakening environmental/mining regulations and wetland protections, and they want to limit public participation. This is a recipe for disaster!
Karl A. Fate, Rhinelander