Expect to be reading about the Penokee Hills iron ore mine for years to come. The Wisconsin Legislature has passed, and Gov. Scott Walker has signed, a bill simplifying the regulatory path for the mine in northwestern Wisconsin.
But the controversy isn’t over. Indian tribes, notably the Bad River Band of Chippewas, may have something to say about this. It goes back to a series of treaties in the 19th century in which the Chippewas ceded land to the federal government but retained certain rights.
The tribe may be able to block the mine if it is shown it will impair the quality of the water in the Bad River Reservation. And it might, if sulfite tailings contaminate streams, wetlands and ground water on the reservation, as well as Lake Superior. Other hurdles may be state and federal regulatory agencies.