The Senate mining bill offered by State Sen. Neal Kedzie, (R-Elkhorn), significantly weakens existing state law.
Current law does not set an arbitrary time frame in which a mining application must be reviewed by state regulators.
Kedzie's bill keeps the 360-day artificial time frame in the Assembly's laughably pro-industry and anti-democratic version of the bill - -but adds the possibility of extensions in 30-day increments - - but only if the mining company and state regulators agree on the extension(s).
Worse - - current law mandates that the review include a so-called "contested hearing," a forum in which the general public is allowed to participate in the questioning of the applicant when under oath.
The Assembly bill eliminates that requirement.
Kedzie's bill does not require it prior to the issuance of a permit, so people may be left during the review process with a weaker alternative - - the dreaded "town hall" dog-and-pony show so familiar to highway expansion foes, where officials bring in charts and posters and PR contractors who take questions, spin out data and promise scenarios without having to swear to them.
That kind of process will drive permit reviews into court - - but perhaps too little, too late, and too expensive for grassroots' opponents without the monied advantages the companies have and to which the legislators are catering.
Kedzie's bill is weak and insincere, and a slap in the face to people whom he led to believe that a better, inclusively-written bill was in the works.
Courtesy of the The River Alliance of Wisconsin, here are a few of the more egregious flaws in the Senate bill:
And an action plan:The Senate Mining Bill elevates mining above all other industries and businesses in the state, applying special rules that allow mines to bypass the environmental and public health requirements that apply to everyone else.
- LRB 4035/1 mandates that if there is a conflict between mining law and other environmental laws, the mining law trumps environmental laws.
- LRB 4035/1 allows mine wastes to be piled next to rivers and lakes, in floodplains and areas where groundwater contamination is likely.
- LRB 4035/1 requires DNR to allow wetlands to be filled, even the most critically important wetlands, as long as the mining company provides "mitigation."
- LRB 4035/1 requires DNR to permit structures and fill in waterways, to allow rivers to be altered, straightened, widened and dredged as long as it won't "significantly" impair public rights, flood capacity, rights of riparian owners or water quality. "Significantly" is not defined.
- LRB 4035/1 requires DNR to allow wells or direct water withdrawals from rivers or lakes even if it will severely draw down groundwater, rivers or lakes because it is assumed that the needs of the mine are in the best interest of the public.
The Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters - - details here - - has organized a special Mining Lobby Day on Thursday, February 16th (12:30pm-5:00pm) at the State Capital.
Meet with your elected officials first-hand and share with them why this bill is bad for our state and the environment.
|Thursday, February 16, 2012|
12:30 PM - 5 PM
|The Madison Concourse Hotel|
1 West Dayton Street
Madison, WI 53703