Last week the Friends of the Land of Keweenaw released a study they had commissioned which studied the effect a return to metal mining would have on the economy of the Western Upper Peninsula. It came as no surprise the study found such a return should not be regarded as a good thing.
This conclusion will certainly shock no one as FOLK was formed more than 20 years ago essentially to thwart the construction of a job-creating paper mill in the Arnheim area of Baraga County.
While we applaud and support all those who look out for the natural resources and beauty of the Copper Country, we do feel any study funded by FOLK can hardly be considered as objective.
Among the negative impacts of mining outlined in the study is the fear of the so-called "Boom and Bust" nature of mining. Dealing with decades of watching young people move out of the Keweenaw, most recently to the oil fields of North Dakota, it's easy to understand how attractive any kind of economic "boom" would look.
Another argument against mining is that our area has been transitioning away from it for more than 40 years. An argument, that in our view, defies logic. Is Dr. Power really saying we should stay away from mining, because we've stayed away from mining?
Because mining has not been a significant source of employment in recent years is not rationale to avoid a return.
We do not advocate an all-out assault on the environment. But we feel the technology does exist which allows for the safe extraction of metal without a significant ecological footprint. We can't afford to turn down the opportunity to at least examine what a return to mining would mean to our region. We owe it to future generations to keep an open mind about mining and give each and every opportunity for economic growth the support it needs.