Saturday, March 17, 2012

Sen. Dale Schultz Interview Helps Explain Mining Bill Failure

Interesting story from the Reedsburg Independent, reprinted here, and while I recommend reading the entire story, consider these three paragraphs:

In an interview last week, he [State Sen. Dale Schultz, R-Richland Center] said a challenge during the mining bill process was that he heard the Gogebic objected to provisions in the Jauch-Schultz amendment but heard nothing specific until the very end when the contested hearing portion was brought up as an obstacle. After the mining bill was defeated, the Gogebic company president announced his company is no longer interested in mining in Wisconsin.

Schultz said about the mining bill compromise he proposed, “No one got up to refute anything we put in.” He said it was bizarre that no one from Gogebic or the other side of the issue ever contacted him to explain what provisions were unacceptable. He said at no time during the process did anyone say why the environmental changes in the Assembly bill and subsequent Joint Finance amendment that changed existing laws were essential...
Schultz said his preference is to address and update the iron mining issues in open process in which mining experts and environmentalists are invited to come together in one room to express their concerns and work together on solutions. “We owe it to the people to let the light shine in,” he said. He supports a streamlined process for approving mining permits.
Now consider these paragraphs from a blog I posted written by business executive and writer John Torinus: 
As a former CEO, I have a somewhat different take on the political melt-down over the ferrous mining bill for Wisconsin. Top executives are paid to get results, and the negative vote in the state senate and decision by Gogeobic Taconite President Bill Williams to pull out of Wisconsin was anything but a positive result for the company.

President Williams needs to take a look in the mirror before doling out a lot of blame. The chorus of job champions on the right, most of who have never created a job or made a payroll, have turned their recrimination machines on Dale Schultz, a former GOP majority leader in the senate, and on the 16 senate Democrats who voted “no.” It was all their fault.

Yet any seasoned CEO would take a step back after such a flop of a major initiative and ask where he or she went wrong. Ditto for the Republican leaders in the legislature.

Williams decided on a unilateral strategy of teaming up with the Republican majorities to pass a law that that would streamline the mining permitting process. Democrats had no voice in the process. Environmental groups were also excluded. Is it any wonder, then, that they refused to support the one-sided bill that was presented?

He issued what amounted to be ultimatums, which is risky negotiating tactic Sort of puts a dent in the political and partisan analysis offered by DNR Secretary Stepp about the demise of the bill:seldom employed by seasoned CEOs. Ultimatums have a way of blowing up in your face.
Sort of puts a dent in the partisan posturing and name-calling about the bill's demise that absolved the company from the desk of State DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp, doesn't it?

For the record, and I know it got repetitive, this blog had pointed out for months (an early example six months ago) that the GOP majority in the Legislature was hell-bent to give the company the bill it wanted - - and helped write - - while intentionally ignoring procedural advice from the federal government and leaving the public, environmental and conservation organizations and the Bad River band out of what should have been a very inclusive process:
...full text of the [Bad River] Band's statement, 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 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.


Anonymous said...

It was ridiculous from the beginning for the Walker administration to think that they could use bullying and force to change Wisconsin law and that their lack of consideration for others wouldn't ensnare them at the national level (treaty rights, water policy, Army Corps, etc.) or even the international level (Great Lakes Treaty).
Who do they think they are, rulers of the world? Leaders want to be consulted, not told what to do.

Rich Eggleston said...

Probably the reason the mining company dug in its heels was that without an utter absence of environmental oversight, mining the Penokee Range deposit would have been uneconomical. The geology of the ore deposit made it so. But geologic reality mattered little to Republicans anxious to use the Jobs Mantra against Democrats. If Senate Democrats and Dale Schultz had caved, Gogebic would have found another excuse to cave.

James Rowen said...

There's a school of thought that believed the company could have obtained the permit, held on to it because there is a big supply of iron coming out of Chin, and then sold it at the right time.