U.S. Congressmen Tour Iron Range Mine

By KBJR News 1

March 2, 2012 Updated Mar 2, 2012 at 6:26 PM CST

(Northland's NewsCenter)---Minnesota and Wisconsin share concerns over expanded mining.

With iron ore and taconite mine projects underway in both states those shared concerns brought two U.S. Congressmen together today on the Iron Range.

Minnesota's Eight District Congressman Chip Cravaack was joined by Wisconsin Seventh District Congressman Sean Duffy for a tour of Arcelor Mittal Minorca Mine in Virginia.

"How expensive it is to run a mine, the infrastructure, talked a lot with some of the people in there and listened to some of their concerns about jobs and the economy," Rep. Cravaack said.

"This is a phenomenal process and what I've learned is, there is great paying jobs in there," Rep. Duffy said. "We could have those great same paying jobs in northern Wisconsin if the state legislature can get its act together."

A mining company is looking to start an open-pit mine in the Penokee Hills of northwestern Wisconsin near Mellon.

On Monday, the Wisconsin legislature's budget committee will vote on a bill that would jumpstart the permitting process for the proposed Gogebic Taconite mine.

The mine has met strong opposition from Native Americans and other environmentalists in the region.

Congressman Duffy says he wants the interests of the economy and the environment balanced.

"I want to have a process that will allow the environmental studies to be done and if it can be done safely, we will have a definite time frame for that permitting process to take place," Rep. Duffy said.

Meanwhile Congressman Cravaack moved to support Minnesota's taconite mining industry with the passage of a bill that calls for American steel to be used in American government supported projects.

"American steel is placed on a level playing field and that we have first dibs on federal projects at market rates," Rep. Cravaack said.

Representative Chip Cravaack will be in the Northland through the weekend, holding a town hall meeting in Gilbert on Saturday morning starting at 10.

He will also be at a fire-department fundraiser at the Aurora Legion from 4-7 Saturday evening.

Jennifer Walch
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