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Who Knew Mining Could Be So Emotional? In Wisconsin, It Certainly Is

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Susan Bence
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Plenty of journalists have covered – over the past year or so – the often hostile legislative and environmental battle that surrounded proposed iron or mining in the far-off Penokee Hills – located just below Lake Superior.

Although Wisconsin has a new mining law that streamlines permitting; and Gogebic Taconite – a company that sprouted from a Florida-based business – has begun its application process, writer Erik Gunn with Milwaukee Magazine thought the subject deserved a fresh examination.

So, last February, he headed to the Penokee region for a few days. His goal was to look deeper than the technical details of Wisconsin law, into the hearts of people who – although of conflicting opinions – share a passion of the region in which they live.

Gunn says it wasn’t difficult to find people willing to share their views - or be moved by their points of view.

"You can’t really spend time with anybody on either side of this issue without feeling something for whatever their understanding or their condition is," he says.

Our environmental reporter Susan Bence met Gunn at an exhibit of Penokee artists that’s currently on display at the “Riveredge” Urban Ecology Center in Milwaukee.

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Susan Bence entered broadcasting in an untraditional way. After years of avid public radio listening, Susan returned to school and earned a bachelor's degree in Journalism from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. She interned for WUWM News and worked with the Lake Effect team, before being hired full-time as a WUWM News reporter / producer.