Current DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp, a former homebuilder put there by Scott Walker to bring "a chamber-of-commerce mentality' (his words) to the agency, said in a talking-point driven statement over her name today, and emailed to all staffers, in part:
Now compare that to a statement issued also today by George Meyer, former DNR Secretary, which said, in part:Lets face the facts. Mining is one of the most regulated, if not the most regulated, industries in the world.This mining proposal would have had to garner DNR approval, Army Corps of Engineers Approval, EPA approval, US Fish & Wildlife Service approval and to meet the water quality and quantity standards established downstream on the Bad River Indian Reservation. With all of these approvals, do we really buy into the "pollution-goes-wild" fear mongering. How can mines be sited in Michigan and Minnesota? Are we incapable of learning from their successes and their shortcomings?It is also a fact, that a mine would change the landscape. This is not in dispute. The bill before the Legislature recognizes this fact. The bill does not change any of the off-site environmental protections. It does however recognize that the ore-body is located where it is. As a result, some flexibility is needed to change the landscape to get at the ore deposit. Recognizing this fact, this bill required that the mining company avoid and minimize impacts to wetlands and navigable waters.
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.
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.
AB 426 would seriously harm the ability of local citizens, governments and tribes to have effective input into mining decisions. The bill would allow a mining company to avoid showing at a contested case hearing that their mine meets state environmental standards and instead puts the burden and great expense on neighboring property owners to show that the mine does not meet the standards. This is a major change in state mining law and would create a real David and Goliath situation
Lastly, the bill is significantly weaker than Minnesota's mining law, in which taconite mining is a major and successful industry.