Thursday, December 6, 2012

River Advocates Offer Gifts Of Many Kinds

A couple of things I like about the River Alliance of Wisconsin:

*  Its annual fund-raising auction, closing tonight, and...

*  Its always snappy and informative newsletter - - a current sample:

Mine! All Mine!  

Our lawmakers are back at work with their figurative pickaxes, prospecting for a shiny new mining law. What exactly they will eventually dig up remains a mystery to everyone. Last week the Senate Select Committee on Mining held another public hearing on an alternative bill to Assembly Bill 426, the disastrous ferrous mining bill that was defeated by a single vote in the Senate last session. Since the last set of hearings in October, the political landscape has shifted in Wisconsin.  

No surprise then, that the intrigue level at the hearing was high, with the Wisconsin Mining Association (WMA) representatives, on record criticizing AB426, choosing their words carefully beneath the watchful eye of WI Manufacturing and Commerce (WMC), who is championing the very same bill. Add to that Monday's announcement that the head of WMA, Tim Sullivan, has accepted a board position on a rival company to Gogebic (for whom AB 426 was written). You confused yet? You're not alone. Here's what we do know: 

1. The republican majority in Senate has grown, and it's likely that a version of AB426 will be introduced early next year. Unless Sen. Dale Schultz finds allies within his party, the bill will pass the Senate.

2. Federal agencies and tribal interests have testified that AB426 is incompatible with federal timelines and with federal trust responsibilities to First Nations. Even though this bill was supposed to streamline the permitting of ferrous mines in WI, it may have just the opposite effect.

3.There is talk of then opening up our existing sulfide mining law to changes as well. This is likely what the Senate Mining Committee will tackle in today's hearing (You can see the outline of their major issues posted at The Wheeler Report.). Expect to hear lots of talk about the mining moratorium and about how much the public should have a say in the permitting process.     

We will continue to fight hard to protect clean water and prevent the rollback of environmental protections and public involvement in the permitting of mines. Stay tuned for how you can get involved.


Anonymous said...

There are no environmental protections that are being rolled back in AB426 and therefore opposing it is not about protecting clean water, but rather just playing political games. The Flambeau River remains an excellent example of how open pit mining directly on the banks of the river itself can be done with minimal environmental impacts.

James Rowen said...

Incorrect, Anon:

Note in yesterdays journal Sentinel that the Gogebic lobbyist says the Dems proposal does not go far enough in changing water quality, groundwater and wetlands standards.

Anonymous said...

I think you may be confusing standards with protection. There are arbitrary standards concerning where tailings can be placed. These standards can be changed and still not affect actual water quality. The Republicans understand this even if the democrats don’t. There will be a mining bill passed next month which will be acceptable to GTAC and which will maintain environmental protection.

Anonymous said...

Which will CLAIM to maintain environmental protection. The Republicans have been repeatedly making statements about how the bill will "distinguish" between sulfide mining and iron mining.

That is simply a lie. There are no deposits of iron in WI that can be mined without also mining sulfide deposits. The Ashland county area has a layer of pyrite laden rock on top of the taconite. The rest of the state is no better.

There is no way around this simple issue: the republicans are lying.