Saturday, March 17, 2012

Avoiding a Mining Takeover of Wisconsin, or How the Republicans gave away the farm, the bluffs, the rivers, lakes....

It’s important to know just what was so bad about the failed mining bill, and to tar and feather the governor and the Republicans majority for their belligerent attempt sell off scenic Wisconsin to corporate interests. It wasn’t just Gogebic’s outrageous ultimatum of “our way or the highway” bullying either that turned the tide. 

It was the Republican Party’s irresponsible stewardship of our states natural resources that stuns the senses. Here are a few important highlights (easy enough for my conservative friend to understand) of an article that originally appeared in the Reedsburg Independent by editor Jeff Seering and reprinted at Dane101, which I saw first at the Political Environment (whew!). The whole article can be seen here at Dane101: 
Schultz said about the mining bill compromise he proposed, “No one got up to refute anything we put in.” He said it was bizarre that no one from Gogebic or the other side of the issue ever contacted him to explain what provisions were unacceptable. He said at no time during the process did anyone say why the environmental changes in the Assembly bill and subsequent Joint Finance amendment that changed existing laws were essential … the bill would have changed iron mining laws in the entire state.
For those who’ve marveled at the landscape on their trip to the Dells taking Hwy 12, The real kicker is this:
The bill being debated had a provision in it that said State Natural Areas would no longer be protected in areas where mining takes place. There are no State Natural Areas in the Penokee Range where the Gogebic mine was proposed, the Senator said. But there are plenty of them in the Baraboo Bluffs, where iron mining has taken place in the past. He questioned why that provision, which could affect his district, was included in the iron mining bill.  
I could make a crack or two about W. Virginia, Kentucky, Texas or Alabama at this point, but I’m guessing you that already occurred to you.
The mining bill proposed “elevate iron mining over other potential uses as the highest and best use of land... allowed the mining company to place fill in streams, rivers, ponds and lakes. That would conflict with the Public Waters Doctrine in the state’s constitution, which states open waters in the state belong to the public.

The bill that stated runoffs from tailings from the iron mine would not pollute water … (but) there is pyrite in the ground above the Penokee iron deposit … brought to the surface, can lead to acidic runoff. “The findings in the bill are not based on good science”

A public forum … in Mellen all of the speakers said they were concerned about the environmental effects the mine could have. Schultz notes he has received support from the people he represents in the 17th Senate District … running six or seven to one ahead of those opposing it. 

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