APPLETON, Wis. (WFRV) - The Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa reside just miles from the proposed mining site in Ashland County. Monday night, members will voice concerns and hope to educate the public on the dangers they say mining can bring to area water sheds.
For Mike Wiggins Jr., the entire debate flows into one main issue.
"We see the new mining law not so much as being that, mining law," he said. "We see it being truly about water."
The Tribal Chairman said his community fears a new mine would compromise environmental safety, specifically ground water and some surface water.
"We think the negative environmental impacts are so catastrophic that we view them as an imminent threat," Wiggins Jr. said.
Local legislators pushing for the bill's passage disagree.
"One simple fact is there are no reductions of water quality or air quality," explained Rep. John Nygren, of Wisconsin's 89th District. "The EPA, the Army Corp., they still have the ability to regulate mining in Wisconsin."
Rep. Nygren said similar mines exist in neighboring states without issue and the proposed Wisconsin mine would equal economic success for an area in dire need.
"This is an area where there's not a lot of employment," he added. "These are jobs that will average about $80,000 a year between salary and benefits in a county that just doesn't have those types of jobs today."
Wiggins Jr. said the tribe is looking further into the future.
"Part of our notion is looking at these things the day after mining ends. Then what?" he questioned. "It's still going to be a challenge for future generations to go through this world in a good way."
The tribe is hosting a public information session Monday at 7:00 p.m. at Lawrence University in Appleton.
The event will take place in the Youngchild Hall Room 121.