Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Mining Bill Did Not Hit Political Paydirt

Props to State Sen. Bob Jauch, (D-Poplar), conservation activists and others who delayed by raising holy hell a special interest, industry-led plan to gut Wisconsin's mine-approval permitting procedures.

Republican proponents are disingenuously blaming the delay to fast-tracking with legislation a 21-mile long iron mine in the Lake Superior watershed near Ashland on their need to focus on the pending recall elections (cue the crocodile tears) - - but even if that were true, whose fault is that?

The recalls were triggered by Gov. Walker and his party's arrogant and unprecedented assumption of power after the election.

Marginally or situationally-moderate recalled Republican Senators like Alberta Darling and Bob Cowles and even Luther Olson know that they would have sealed their fates in defeat had they actually voted for the fast-tracked mining bill.

Not just because it would have limited the Department of Natural Resources to a 300-day review - - an arbitrary limit cooked up by the industry with no relationship to on-the-ground realities - - but also because, by law, it would have barred Wisconsin citizens from exercising their current rights to participation in mining reviews.

Pretty basic stuff.

Republicans have spent a lot of time and political capital since January limiting rights in Wisconsin and monkeying around with others - - access to the polls, speaking at legislative hearings on administrative rules, ending collective bargaining for public employees, running fake Democratic opponents in the recall elections - - but one paragraph from this Journal Sentinel story shows how blatantly and bluntly the bill would have assaulted the rights of the people:

Another feature would forbid the creation of a local impact committee in a community near the mine to review, comment or negotiate with the mining company. Other language would eliminate a legal appeal process known as a contested-case hearing, in which citizens could challenge the DNR's decision, and instead send a challenge directly to the courts.
That's flat-out anti-democratic, and Republicans, willing to now postpone the bill, must be hearing that they are over-reaching into political suicide territory.