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Facts suggest we’ve been duped on mine PDF Print E-mail

Letter to the Editor:

U.S. Steel was willing and ready to sell the conservation rights on 16,000 acres of land along the Penokee Range through negotiation with The Nature Conservancy (TNC) in 2003, including their mineral rights.

This is the same land Gogebic Taconite (GTAC) wants to mine. The same land for which GTAC has secured an option to obtain the mineral rights from current owners RGGS Land and Minerals of Texas and La Point Mining Company of Minnesota. The same land that drove the “Mining for Jobs” bill, SB1 and AB1.

In 2003, TNC applied for Forest Legacy Program funds to help purchase the conservation easement from U.S. Steel. Land and Water Conservation Funds were to be used to help the U.S. Forest Service buy another 6,000 acres. The resulting easements would have maintained the recreational uses and timber production on a total of 22,000 acres along the Penokee Range. Mining would not have been allowed.

Forest Legacy Program easements commit land to a forest management plan that recognizes and encourages management of the forest for public recreation, scenic beauty, timber production, and conservation benefits. The easements are permanent and binding on future landowners.

The 2003 Forest Legacy project was named Bad River Headwaters. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources records indicate the federal government awarded $3,428,000 toward the purchase of the conservation easements. The state of Wisconsin match funds totaled $1,143,000. The total value of the land interests was $10 million.

The records state that although negotiations had been going well between TNC and the landowners, one of the larger landowners decided to sell their holdings to another party. The new owner was not interested in selling a conservation easement to the state. A state of Wisconsin final report dated June 12, 2006, explains that, “[T]he new owners have indicated that they may mine the property in the future.”

The larger landowner was U.S. Steel. The purchaser was RGGS.

If there is a profitable orebody on the Penokee Range, why was U.S. Steel willing to sell a conservation easement on that land? The easement would have banned mining in perpetuity. Certainly U.S. Steel knew the implications of a conservation easement. Most certainly, U.S. Steel knew the value of its mineral rights on the range.

The other parties to this transaction also must have known the value of the mineral rights. In fact, the state of Wisconsin was required to obtain an appraisal in order to determine the fair market value of the land interests. (state of Wisconsin Forest Legacy Program, Program Narrative, 424 Application, Fiscal Year 2003, Bad River tract.)

There must be an appraisal of the mineral value in the land GTAC claims it wants to mine. Clearly all the parties in 2003 knew the value of the mineral deposits. Certainly today’s proponents of a taconite mine on the Penokee Range must also know.

In 2003, one of the largest steel producing companies in the world was willing to sell a conservation easement for its 16,000 acres on the Penokee Range knowing that mining would be prohibited. Yet in 2013 our legislators insist there is profit and jobs to be had in those same hills. Facts suggest otherwise. We have been duped. To what end?

Susan Sommer

Phelps

Tuesday, March 12, 2013 3:39 PM
 

Comments  

 
-32 #9 Frank Gabl 2013-03-20 12:57
Charlie,

I hear ya, but I was caught between this and something else I've been working on.

And although I'd love for people to know that, "Between 1995 and 2008 the United States used on average 56 million tons of iron ore per year. At that rate of use, the Ironwood Formation contains 66 years of domestic supply,” amongst the other astonishing facts posted in #3 and 4 above, you did a fine job in the tact you took!

Frank
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-23 #8 2013-03-18 21:51
Frank,
Why don't you send a letter to the editor with your response?
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-29 #7 Frank Gabl 2013-03-17 13:04
Susan,

As we all know, curiosity is an irresistible emotion, so thank you for reading this.

After waiting several days for you to respond, I see that you have in a quite telling fashion.

Silence.
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-35 #6 Frank Gabl 2013-03-14 12:38
Upon Further Review

To: Susan J. Sommer –

Former candidate for WI State Senate, associate attorney in Eagle River, former Assistant District Attorney for 10 years in Milwaukee County and for 7 years in Jefferson County, board member of Northwoods Restorative Justice - a trained facilitator, and a board member with Northwood Alliance - a conservation organization.

http://vote-wi.org/intro.aspx?state=wi&id=wisommersusan

http://northwoodalliance.org/

I have a question for you, Susan:

Why did you state the following in your letter? “In 2003, one of the largest steel producing companies in the world was willing to sell a conservation easement for its 16,000 acres on the Penokee Range knowing that mining would be prohibited. Yet in 2013 our legislators insist there is profit and jobs to be had in those same hills. Facts suggest otherwise. We have been duped. To what end?”

Cont. below:
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-32 #5 Frank Gabl 2013-03-14 12:35
Continued:

When in fact, the following exhaustive report, including core sample results, tables and charts is prominently displayed on the website in which your name is included under “Board of Directors” – “Ralph Marsden (1978), Iron Ore Reserves of Wisconsin: A Minerals Availability System Report.”

“The weighted averages for Ashland County suggest an average weight recovery of 32.66 percent for 2,780,000,000 tons of crude ore and an average of 30.4 percent weight recovery for 931,000,000 tons of crude ore in Iron County. The overall weighted average for the Gogebic Range in Wisconsin determined by this study is 32.09 percent weight recovery for 3,711,000,000 tons of crude taconite ore with a probability rating of from 50 to 90 percent.”

http://www.northwoodalliance.org/GogebicTaconite/Environment.htm
(scroll down)

Cont. below:
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-33 #4 Frank Gabl 2013-03-14 12:34
Continued:

And for a little karma, the following in depth and entirely nonpartisan article from Wisconsin Academy, who in 1960 formed the Wisconsin Chapter of The Nature Conservancy (one can’t make this stuff up) which you continually reference and provide a link to on the Northwood Alliance website, states:

“The deposit in the proposed GTAC site near Mellen is extremely large. It has been estimated that the Ironwood Formation contains 3.7 billion tons of economic ore, making it one of the largest iron reserves in North America. That quantity of ore could be turned into about one billion tons of steel.

For comparison, the three-foot-diameter main cables of the Golden Gate Bridge are each 1.5 miles long and contain 12,250 tons of steel. Thus, the economic ore of the Penokee Range is the equivalent of 120,000 miles of three-foot-diameter steel cable.”

Cont. below:
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-33 #3 Frank Gabl 2013-03-14 12:32
Continued:

“This is enough three-foot cable for about 40,000 Golden Gate Bridges, or enough cable to wrap around the Earth almost five times. Between 1995 and 2008 the United States used on average 56 million tons of iron ore per year. At that rate of use, the Ironwood Formation contains 66 years of domestic supply.”

http://www.nature.org/ourinitiatives/regions/northamerica/unitedstates/wisconsin/explore/50th-anniversary-milestones-in-the-beginning.xml

http://www.wisconsinacademy.org/magazine/ironwood-rocks-penokee-range

http://www.wisconsinacademy.org/contributor/tom-fitz

By the way, good job getting your “facts” published on the Daily Kos!

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2013/03/11/1193176/-The-battle-against-Mine-Games-is-on

End.
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-32 #2 Frank Gabl 2013-03-13 12:41
The entire premise of Susan’s letter is summed up in the paragraph in which she questions and states:

“If there is a profitable orebody on the Penokee Range, why was U.S. Steel willing to sell a conservation easement on that land? The easement would have banned mining in perpetuity.”

Could it be that The Nature Conservancy was the only source U.S.Steel had at the time to sell their land to, before RGGS made a better offer?

At that point, could it be that U.S.Steel jumped at the opportunity to sell their holdings to the private sector rather than a corrupt, land-grabbing, arm of The United Nations whose main mission is to secure private land holdings, by any means necessary, in order to put it under government control.

Cont. below:
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-32 #1 Frank Gabl 2013-03-13 12:35
Continued:

Not to mention the fact that at the time (and to this day) TNC was embroiled in controversy.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/06/26/AR2007062600803.html

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/06/26/AR2007062600944.html

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/06/26/AR2007062601001.html

The Truth Behind The Nature Conservancy’s Guise:

http://www.newswithviews.com/Shaw/michael.htm

http://www.newswithviews.com/DeWeese/tom212.htm

Land Trust Alliance / The Nature Conservancy:

http://findalandtrust.org/states/wisconsin55

http://www.nationalcenter.org/NPA569.html

End.
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