This is the part of our vast mental disconnect that I don't get. Mining proponents (not least of which is Tim Sullivan of Bucyrus who looks forward to becoming richer off the machines and equipment needed to rip up the earth, from here all the way to China) say they can dig out this iron ore mine while protecting the environment. How do you dig down a thousand feet across 4 miles of our wooded land and say you are not destroying the environment. YOU ARE DESTROYING THAT ENVIRONMENT!! YOU ARE DESTROYING THE ECO-COMMUNITY!!! AND IT WILL NEVER, EVER BE THE SAME AGAIN - EVER!!
So let's at least be clear and honest about what they are intending to do.
Now read again how deceptive and devious the Repubs are being. Rep. Jauch is correct when he says that dumping a 183-page piece of legislation - drafted behind closed doors - on the public and giving us 6 days to read, digest, and figure out how to respond is insulting. But it is more than that: it is anti-democratic, it is autocratic, it is how nasty governments we don't like in other parts of the world operate.
You will see here just what it is in the legislation that so pleases the president of Gogebic Taconite. Among these things is the easing of wetlands protections. From the other side of his mouth, he says they can mine in an environmentally responsible way. If they can be so responsible, why do they need these regulations 'eased?'
Remember that this is the Walker administration that did Koch Industries a favor by easing pollution regulations, that re-wrote regulations on the construction of wind farms to make them almost impossible to create, that gives more and more permissions for giant livestock farms that pollute soil, waterways, and our bodies, that promotes more and more sand-mining for natural gas fracking in our beautiful western counties.
Hey, and they are even making us pay for it through corporate tax breaks!!!
Oh, yea, Gov Scott Walker and the Repubs are opening Wisconsin for business, all right. They are offering up the beauty of the state to some of the most ecologically damaging industries around.
As if this is the only way we can create jobs here. As if this isn't really a political choice about what kinds of jobs in what kinds of industries you intend to try to create them. And to find out what those choices are, check out the campaign donations and the lobbyists making a steady beat to our State Capitol. Just to be clear about this, a quote from the third article linked below, by Al Gedicks:
"They were also worried that Wisconsin’s mining regulations would not allow such a mine to be permitted. GTAC executives discussed these concerns with several legislators and contributed more than $40,000 in 2010 campaign contributions to Republican candidates involved with the mining issue, including Gov. Scott Walker and Rep. Mark Honadel (R-South Milwaukee)"
This analysis was published in September, and now, as promised, the Repubs have taken matters in hand. There is a reason they don't want you to know what's in this bill, and Gedicks gives us one example:
"Under the provisions of this bill (LRB 2035), which only applies to iron mining, the mining company will no longer be required to do a risk assessment of accidental health and environmental hazards associated with the mining operation. Existing water quality standards that protect water in the Great Lakes basin will be sacrificed if they conflict with 'the need for waste sites and processing facilities to be contiguous to the location of the iron deposits.'
"Just in case the authors of the bill may have overlooked some potential environmental obstacle, the bill states that, 'If there is a conflict between a provision in the iron mining laws and a provision in another state environmental law, the provision in the iron mining law controls.' In other words, the Iron Mining Law proclaims that the expansion of the mining industry is the official policy of the state and all other considerations are subordinate to mining." [emphasis added]
Thus do we see how our Wisconsin democracy is taken from the people and power handed to the corporations. This is a scandal, folks, and I hope you will make your voices heard about this - before it is too late. These guys are clever and devious. They are putting this bill out there just in time for the holidays when they hope we are not paying attention. Let's prove them wrong..
For more info:
The Enviromental Track Record of Taconite Mining
Permitting for Penokee Mine Shouldn't Be Rushed
Resisting Resource Colonialism in the Lake Superior Region
Statement by Mike Wiggins, Jr., chairman of the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Tribe of Chippewa Indians