Public Should Question Proposed Mining in the Town of Easton
To protect its own interests, the public must pay attention to the proposal for mining in the town of Easton, near Dells of the Eau Claire County Park. The mining company, Greenlight Metals, Inc., will not protect the public’s interest. Whether the government will do so is far from clear.
Greenlight has made a cost-benefit analysis that it has a reasonable
chance of making money for its shareholders by mining just east of
Wausau. We should have no illusions that, in its analysis, Green Light would alter its money-making plans if the mining would negatively affect the quality of life of local residents or harm the environment, except to the extent any government regulation of mining remains in place. Bear in mind that in 2017 much of the important governmental safeguards for the public relating to mining were repealed as a result of the efforts of then State Senator Tom Tiffany.
Green Light can be expected to present us with a public relations campaign designed to convince us that its mining plan is good for all of us. That PR campaign should be viewed as skeptically as the assurances of any salesman. They want to make money, period. We need to ask questions and get real facts.
Green Light’s CEO Dan Colton has said the company will “provide a
significant economic boost to the region while protecting our
environment and transitioning our country as it accelerates toward
green, low-carbon clean energy.”
How does sulfide mining ever protect the environment? Doesn’t it use
cyanide in its processes? What does its machinery do to the
environment? Is it true that waste material from mining can create acid that can get into groundwater? Doesn’t that groundwater flow toward the Wausau area? Would Green Light make any efforts to restore the site after it closes the mine? And isn’t it true that Green Light has no track record of operating a sulfide mine without harming the environment?
As for the significant economic boost, mining companies typically tout
the new jobs associated with the mine. Before accepting this sales
pitch, we need to know how much benefit that might actually bring.
We need to look at other mines to see how many jobs actually go to
local job seekers versus mining engineers and transient workers. And
we need to recognize that, by the nature of mining, those jobs would
be gone when the company can no longer make a profit from its mine.
Colton’s attempt to persuade us that Green Light’s mine will accomplish “transitioning our country as it accelerates toward green, low-carbon clean energy,” is highly suspect. From the information I have seen, the quantity of metals it could recover from this mine would have a negligible effect on this transition. Would that negligible effect be offset by the high carbon cost of the mining operations?
The public needs to be vigilant in getting reliable facts about the
proposed Greenlight mine. If we are not, if we simply accept the
mining company’s sales pitch, we could end up with the harsh
consequences mining has brought to other places around the country.
Right next to one of Marathon County’s natural wonders, and right
upstream from the Wausau area.