The PR campaign from Team Walker over the failure of the mining bill is right on track.
Yesterday, WTMJ-AM radio conservative talker Charlie Sykes gave over unfiltered time to Gov. Walker on the mining bill to blast the demise of the bill, and today it continued with a highly-charged political appearance by Department of Natural Resources Secretary Cathy Stepp.
She characterized as "lies" some of the allegations made about the mining bill's impact on environmental regulation, and though she conceded that an open pit mine would alter the landscape, she said that didn't mean it would harm water or air quality.
A former DNR Secretary explains the facts that Stepp and Sykes ignored:
The version of the mining legislation voted down Tuesday in the state Senate, Assembly Bill 426, was not a responsible mining bill and would have led to serious and unnecessary damage to Wisconsin's valuable natural resources.Neither Sykes or Stepp mentioned that the bill had removed from existing law the so-called "contested case" hearing from future mining application reviews.
A responsible mining bill does not allow the filling in of lakes held in trust for Wisconsin citizens. Current mining law prohibits filling in public lakes. AB 426 would have allowed this, thereby violating the Wisconsin Constitution's Public Trust Doctrine protecting navigable waters.
AB 426 would have allowed the destruction of State Natural Areas, which are the most unique and valuable lands remaining in Wisconsin and include the Cedarburg Bog, Peninsula Park White Cedar Forest, the Upper Brule River, Trout Lake Conifer Swamp and the Dalles of the St. Croix River. Current mining regulations protect these areas. AB 426 also would quadruple the area where the groundwater adjacent to the mining site could be polluted greatly in excess of state standards. That is a major change from current mining laws.
That is the step in the process where citizens can have their say and people answering questions are under oath - and the elimination of the hearing - - sought by the mining company - - was a major factor in the bill's collapse.
Remember that when the hearing provision made it into a draft alternative created by a bi-partisan, GOP-majority Select Senate committee on mining appointed by Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, he disbanded the committee, cancelled its hearings and pulled procedural strings to get a mining bill without the hearing provision on the fast-track to a vote - - where it died.
I'll put a link to Sykes' interview with Stepp when its podcast is available.