Mon January 7, 2013
Penokee Education Project Believes People Talk Louder Than Money
Millions of dollars have been spent in support of a proposed Wisconsin iron ore mining bill. But one opposition group is taking a different approach. Members are traveling the state giving power point presentations to anyone who will listen.
Penokee Hills Education Project President Frank Koehn of Herbster guesses he’s visited 30 places around the state over the past two years, from West Bend to La Crosse to Stevens Point, “The first time we were in Stevens Point, we had 15 people at the library. In the middle of a snow storm four or five months later, I saw ‘Well, I suppose we should get over to the Dreyfus Center and see if those 15 people showed up.’ The place was packed, standing room only.”
The Cline Group’s Gogebic Taconite wants to build a $1.5 billion open pit iron ore mine in the Penokee Hills of Ashland and Iron Counties. Government Accountability Board records show G-Tac spent $200,000 in lobbying in 2011 and pro-mining business group Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce spent $440,000. Penokee Hills Education Project? Zero, “Money isn’t going to help us win this struggle because we can outspend Chris Cline. We can’t craft messages as well as Manufacturers and Commerce. So it’s a tank of gas, a box of crackers and you’re on your way. That’s the way it should be.”
Koehn’s message is that no mine can be built in the Penokees without polluting the air and water of the Bad River tribe and Lake Superior watershed, "What we’re talking about is a massive project that’s going to affect northern Wisconsin forever. It’s a human rights issue.”
Next stop: Bad River officials will discuss mining at The Congregation of the Great Spirit Church Tuesday in Milwaukee.