The NY Times piece “The Fight for Wisconsin’s Soul,” details very simply what the whole Gtac ore mine controversy in Northern Wisconsin is all about:
The $1.5 billion mine would initially be close to four miles long, up to a half-mile wide and nearly 1,000 feet deep, but it could be extended as long as 21 miles. To facilitate the construction of the mine and the company’s promise of 700 long-term jobs.
Gov. Scott Walker signed legislation last year granting GTac astonishing latitude. The new law allows the company to fill in pristine streams and ponds with mine waste. It eliminates a public hearing that had been mandated before the issuing of a permit, which required the company to testify, under oath, that the project had complied with all environmental standards. It allows GTac to pay taxes solely on profit, not on the amount of ore removed, raising the possibility that the communities affected by the mine’s impact on the area’s roads and schools would receive only token compensation.
And we know that money does not have any actual influence on politicians, or so says the Supreme Court:
According to the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, a campaign-finance watchdog, GTac executives and other mine supporters have donated a total of $15 million to Governor Walker and Republican legislators, outspending the mine’s opponents by more than 600 to 1.
Militia protection and no state license:
GTac responded to a minor altercation with protesters unconnected to the camp by hiring an Arizona-based private-security firm, which sent guards armed with semiautomatic weapons to patrol the mine site. (The guards have since been withdrawn; the camp is still there.)
Mike Wiggins Jr., the chairman of the Bad River tribe, and Pres. John Kennedy ignored:
Last summer Mr. Wiggins played Governor Walker a recording of Kennedy’s speech. Mr. Wiggins said that the governor appeared indifferent to Kennedy’s words; Mr. Walker has never wavered in his support of the mine.
Ignoring what history tells us, and the no consequences attitude of like minded political actors:
GTac’s president, Bill Williams, is facing a criminal inquiry in Spain for alleged environmental crimes, which are unrelated to the GTac mine. The charges state that runoff from an open-pit mine where he once worked as an executive contaminated local groundwater.