Thursday, September 29, 2011

Easing Mining Laws Puts Wisconsin At Odds With Powerful Opponents

The Ashland Current has published the most detailed mainstream media account of the legal, scientific and procedural objections made by the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Tribe of Chippewa Indians to the efforts of state legislators and Gov. Walker to fast-track mining permit approvals.

You can read the paper's account and a full text of the Band's statement, here.

I wonder if the Walker administration and its legislative lieutenants read and fully absorbed it.

The Band's full statement gives get a better sense of the depth and sweep of the opposition, and the legal challenges facing the state if it proceeds against the Band on behalf of mining companies who want the permit procedure streamlined and eased.

And you wonder if these state officials also have read the US Army Corp of Engineers communication about the broader consequences of meddling with existing mining procedures?

Attention has been diverted a bit this week by a power struggle between Democratic and Republican leaders over the composition of a special legislative committee to draft a plan to speed up the permitting process.

Republicans hold the balance of power, and are willing to stamp on tradition and stack the committee with certain Democrats, and while the GOP is using a heavy-handed tactic, their approach appears legal.

The goal and tenor of the work of the committee has already been telegraphed by its chair, State Sen. Neal Kedzie, (R-Elkhorn), who said when he was appointed chairman that the goal was to write a bill that would attract mining applications.

And there are no citizen members, so the direct participation of the Bad River Band, and environmentalists, are formally shut out of the bill's drafting.

Frankly, there seems no reason for any opponent to work in a group where the membership has been rigged to produce a foregone conclusion for a special interest, and where the people running the show and pulling the strings seem oblivious to information communicated in writing by both federal officials and the Band.

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