Monday, April 30, 2012

River Cleanup Cautionary Tale For Mining Plan

[originally posted 8:10 p.m., Sunday, April 29] I recommend Lee Bergquist's reporting about the political and financial barriers that have been obstructing removal of dangerous PCB contamination from the Fox River.

Paper mills had profoundly polluted the river, then one firm balked at its share of the cleanup cost; perhaps a recent 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 and 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 - - while knowing that chemical-laden mine residue and dust from mountaintop removal, trucking and ore processing was going to create pollutants ending up in the Northern Wisconsin water, land and air.

Industry will tell you that their processes and controls are modern, safe and 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 after the BP 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 in the State Constitution that is rightly called the Public Trust Doctrine for a reason.

Dating back to 1787.

This is why projects like the iron ore mine should be approached with caution on behalf of the common good and not their conformity to election-year agendas.

And should not be left in the hands of regulators who will not regulate.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Yep- although on a smaller scale take a gander at the river frontage just east over the Milwaukee River on Green Tree road.White boulders piled so neatly seem so unnatural and perhaps illegal. Is this really a natural improvement?

Didn't see any permits posted.