A heated debate over mining controversy on Capitol City Sunday - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

A heated debate over mining controversy on tap for Capitol City Sunday


MADISON (WKOW) -- The recent controversy at the Gogebic Taconite iron mine site prompted a heated debate on this weekend's edition of Capitol City Sunday.

Assembly Majority Leader Rep. Scott Suder (R-Abbotsford) and Ashland City Council member Kelly Westlund join Host Greg Neumann.

"You take a look at that video, why on earth, if these individuals are peaceful protesters who are just out taking their dog for a walk, why are they masked?  Why are they in camouflage?," asked Rep. Suder about the video showing a June 11th raid of the mine site by protesters.

"You're applying this label that's for this fringe group, a small handful, less than a dozen people to an entire existence of a peaceful camp," replied Westlund. 

Neither Rep. Suder nor Westlund pull any punches in their debate over Gogebic Taconite's decision to hire armed guards with assault weapons in response to that raid.

But those guards have been asked to step down temporarily, because their company, Bulletproof Securities of Arizona, isn't licensed in Wisconsin.

That fact prompted the following exchange:

Westlund: "And if they think that they are above the law..."
Suder: "That's just simply not true."
Westlund: "Well, they were able to write the new mining law, so, of course they think they're above the law."
Suder: "Actually Kelly, actually Kelly..."
Westlund: "Bill Williams (Gogebic Taconite President) himself said that it was his wish list."
Suder: "Legislators like myself wrote the mining law."
Westlund: "In backroom deals with Gogebic Taconite."

Suder says at the end of the day, people in northern Wisconsin will see the mine was a good idea, but Westlund disagrees.

"Sure, Iron County has been more in favor of this than Ashland County.  However, Ashland County is the entire drainage basin that will be affected," said Westlund.  "Iron County is outside of that watershed.  They don't have to face the impact of what's happening to us downstream."

"I believe people want both.  They want sustainable jobs and they want to protect the environment.  And I firmly believe that the legislation that we've passed does both, and will be proven to have done so," said Rep. Suder.

Rep. Suder and Westlund also discuss what it will take to avoid any violence in the future.

Capitol City Sunday airs at 9:00 a.m. on WKOW 27.

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