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We need the jobs

October 12, 2011 - Blaine Hyska
I couldn’t help but think about the Gogebic Taconite mine proposal as I drove to the western Upper Peninsula the other day. The ride to Bond Falls in Ontonagon County was beautiful — rolling hills and great fall colors.

Besides the hills and colors, I also rode past three counties of empty homes, vacant streets and boarded businesses.

The Associated Press filed a piece about the mining issue — jobs versus environment.

The story described the area as a pristine landscape, a hiker’s paradise. The story also conspicuously pointed out that Gogebic Taconite is based in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., and painted a picture of a corporate giant coming in to rape the U.P.

This may be true.

There’s no hiding it. Mining is an ugly business. Giant machines tear up the earth and extract the treasured minerals hidden beneath the surface.

There are other concerns. Folks don’t worry much about the Clean Air Act when their vehicle is spitting blue fumes, and the question of the day is heat or eat — again.

Poverty is not environmentally friendly. Poverty impedes education. Generations of poverty breed generations of poverty.

The lure of the mine is it could mean up to 700 new jobs, with annual salaries averaging $60,000. It would raise the standard of living for thousands of people.

If and when a mine comes in, let’s hope it does so as environmentally friendly as possible.

Boy, do we need the jobs.



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