Monday, April 23, 2012

Fox River Cleanup Offers Cautionary Tale For Iron Mine

I recommend Lee Bergquist's reporting about the political and financial barriers that have obstructed removal of dangerous PCB contamination from the Fox River.

Paper mills had profoundly polluted the river, then one balked at its share of the cleanup cost; perhaps a Federal court order will finally get the project back on schedule.

What is sobering about this story is that Wisconsin was within one vote of approving horrendous, special-interest legislation in the State Senate earlier this year of green-lighting a huge open pit iron ore mine in the Bad River watershed near Ashland - - close to municipal drinking water systems, Native American rice-growing waters and the shore of Lake Superior - - knowing that chemical-laden mine residue and dust from mountaintop removal, trucking and ore processing was going to create pollutants ending up in Northern Wisconsin water, land and clean air.

Industry will tell you that their processes and controls are modern, safe effective so there's little to worry about, etc., etc., but you need  to look no farther than the Fox River, or the Gulf of Mexico oil well blow-out, or recent pipeline breaks in Wisconsin, Michigan and Montana to see that even a pinhole in an underground pipe can lead to unforgiving and catastrophic consequences.

This is why Scott Walker's having put Cathy Stepp and her "chamber of commerce mentality" at the helm of the DNR was so offensive. For ideological reasons, Walker degraded the  public interest and risked Wisconsin waters held in trust - - the principle and policy is in the State Constitution and is called the Public Trust Doctrine for a reason.

This is why projects like the iron ore mine should be approached with caution, not election-year agendas.

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