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Duluth Newspaper Blasts Jauch, others on Iron Mining Job Loss

TO:              Wisconsin Editors, Producers and Talk Show Hosts
FROM:        Jim Pugh, WMC PR Director
RE:             Duluth Newspaper Blasts Jauch, others on Iron Mining Job Loss
DATE:         March 8, 2012
The Duluth News Tribune puts it simply: “We lost big.”  Please see the editorial below from the Duluth News Tribune regarding the defeat of the iron mining reform legislation and the loss of thousands of high-wage jobs in northern Wisconsin.
Click here for the editorial.  The text is below.
Duluth News Tribune, March 8, 2012

Jauch, Wisconsin Losers In Missed Mining Venture

A couple of years back, along Wisconsin’s borders, three words were added to the bottoms of the “Wisconsin Welcomes You” signs. “Open for business,” the additions announced.
A couple of years back, along Wisconsin’s borders, three words were added to the bottoms of the “Wisconsin Welcomes You” signs. “Open for business,” the additions announced.
But is Wisconsin? Really?
You wouldn’t have known it this week, not after the state’s Senate rejected mining legislation despite months of dealings and negotiations. Frustratingly, deliberations devolved into divisive, bitter debates along party lines. While politicians seemed to be doing little more than jockeying for credit while making sure the other party couldn’t score a victory, the state — and especially northern Wisconsin — was losing.
We lost big.
In the wake of the Senate’s rejection, Gogebic Taconite LLC threw up its hands in frustration and abandoned Wisconsin. The prominent mining company took with it $1.5 billion of promised private investment and 600 to 700 good-paying jobs, and in a region racked by low wages and high unemployment.
“We get the message,” Gogebic President Bill Williams said in a statement. “Senate rejection of the mining reforms (sent) a clear message that Wisconsin will not welcome iron mining.”
And is not open for business, not really.
Gogebic proposed the same sort of open-pit mining that’s been going on safely and successfully across northern Minnesota for more than 100 years. There suddenly are concerns? The proposal wasn’t for a more-controversial type of mining, though you wouldn’t have known it listening to critics who seemed either confused or eager to spread misinformation. Gogebic proposed a mechanical process. There weren’t even to be chemicals involved.
Gogebic proposed something else, too: a set time frame for knowing whether necessary permits would be forthcoming. A deadline seemed a reasonable request, especially with current state law including a rather business-unfriendly, open-ended permitting process that can leave companies tied up and in limbo for years.
The proposed mine site in Ashland and Iron counties is within the district represented by Sen. Bob Jauch, D-Poplar. That’s the same Sen. Jauch who threw a political tantrum last year and fled to Illinois, abandoning his post and his responsibilities. He should have been a leader in making sure Gogebic’s proposal became reality. Instead he offered delays and counterproposals, and he consistently opposed what was brought by Republicans.
Jauch didn’t return a phone message from the News Tribune Opinion page Wednesday. His office instead provided a statement also posted to Jauch’s website, In it, Jauch expressed disappointment at Gogebic’s decision.
With its ability to move forward thwarted by Wisconsin politicians, Gogebic is expected to take its $1.5 billion to neighboring Michigan, where it already has had positive talks with state leaders. Michigan’s gain could be Wisconsin’s loss.
“We let something slip away,” Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald, R-Horicon, said in a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel report yesterday. Added James Buchen of Wisconsin’s largest business lobby: “It’s a missed opportunity for the folks in northern Wisconsin to have an economically secure future.”
That’s a northern Wisconsin with a jobless rate of about 9 percent in Iron and Ashland counties and a median income in Iron County of $35,618. The statewide median income is $51,598.
“Simply put, the folks up (here) really need good-paying jobs and the attendant growth in business that comes with this kind of economic development,” Joe Karius, retired publisher of the Daily Globe newspaper in Ironwood, Mich., wrote in a commentary last month in the News Tribune about the Gogebic proposal. “Getting this mine going makes economic sense even beyond job creation. On a grand scale, getting iron ore out of United States soil reduces our dependence on imports.”
That all seems lost now — lost, apparently, to the political posturing and gamesmanship of politicians who should have been focused on the people and the region they were elected to represent and help.




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