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Tribes, EPA discuss mining this weekend

TRAVERSE CITY, MI (WXPR) -- Tribal leaders are headed to Traverse City Michigan this weekend to meet with the federal Environmental Protection Agency.

Wisconsin’s six Chippewa tribes have asked the EPA to intervene in Gogebic Taconite’s iron mining proposal. They say Wisconsin’s iron mining laws don’t do enough to protect crucial downstream resources like wild rice and fish, that are protected in the ceded territory by federal treaty rights.

Lac du Flambeau chairman Tom Maulson says the tribes are in a unique position to safeguard the environment.  “We as tribal nations need to make things happen because we’re not like a state or township or a county or whatever.  We’ve got nation status, and they should recognize that. We weren’t just here yesterday, we’ve always been here.”

Maulson says he hasn’t seen any evidence that guarantees a mine can be environmentally safe.

Meanwhile, Governor Scott Walker stopped in Rhinelander this week. He says the state is relying on science to make its decisions about the mine proposal.  “My hope is that with anything involving the EPA and the state are science-based and predictable. That’s what we’ve tried to do with the department of natural resources, that we do things that are based on science and are predictable – that they don’t change from one part of the state to the other.” The meeting between tribal officials and the EPA is set for Saturday.