Monday, December 3, 2012

Rep. Kleefisch Distorts Mining Bill

Suppose you found out you had a tumor near your heart - - bad enough - - but then learned your doctor didn't tell you that the only way to reach this particular growth was to cut through a lung and let it drain. And was OK with the treatment plan.

Now meet the equivalent political surgeon- - State Rep. Joel Kleefisch, (R-Oconomowoc) - -  who released last week what reads like a mining industry windshield flyer touting a bill that died earlier this year in the State Senate.

Kleefisch said the bill is aimed at iron mining, which will produce "no risk" of runoff pollution:

The mining bill concerns ferrous mining, meaning that the environmental impact will be minimal. Ferrous mining for iron uses magnets, as opposed to sulfide mining, which uses chemicals. With ferrous mining there is no risk of acid drainage contaminating ground and surface water. The magnets separate the metal from rock.
However, there was extensive testimony prior to the vote earlier this year that explained why getting to the Northern Wisconsin iron deposit in question would release acid run-off - - with the Bad River Band's land and water immediately downstream - - because there is pyrite with potentially toxic sulfide on top of the iron ore in the deposit ticketed for blasting and excavation in a proposed an open pit mine up to 1,000 feet deep:
[Former Thompson administration DNR Secretary George] Meyer, currently the executive director of the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation, said anyone who knows anything about rock formations can simply look at the site where the $1.5 billion mine is being proposed to see there are other rock materials on top of the iron ore that will be problematic.
[Additional testimony added that] when a material like pyrite, commonly known as fool's gold, mixes with oxygen, it becomes a toxic substance that also would go unregulated, causing pollution to nearby waterways.
4:00 p.m. update:

Note that pyrite is a sulfide:


Sulfide Mineral Pictures

Pyrite, iron sulfide (FeS2), is a common mineral in many rocks. Geochemically speaking, pyrite is the most important sulfur-containing mineral.
Iron sulfide (cubic)


JB said...

I try not to make personal comments, but Rep. Kleefisch's remarks beg for this. "What an idiot."

Anonymous said...

Specifically, pyrite is a sulfide.

Anonymous said...

Rep. Kleefisch Is a magnet for ridicule.

James Rowen said...

To Anon 3:50 p.m. Pyrite material added. Thanks for pointing this out.

Anonymous said...

The expert geologist's have testified before the senate committee last year that there would be 10 billion gallons of sulfuric acid released from the mine that would flow directly into the bad river, and that's really a lot. What on earth are people thinking who want to do this?

Anonymous said...

Kleefisch is right, there will be no acid runoff into rivers. If there were, then it would be illegal for the DNR to approve a permit under the laws today and under any proposed updates. It is not and will not be legal to pollute any rivers in the area, whether they flow through the reservation or not.

Denny Caneff said...

Even if there is no sulfides and thereby acid drainage at the Penokees iron mine site (and it's not clear there isn't), Kleefisch and others overlook how much rock and dirt have to be removed and stockpiled to get to the iron ore (about 1,500 feet down, and at steep angle). That means heaps of slags 100-200 feet high, from which sediments will run off into rivers and wetlands nearby, if there are no safeguards -- and that's what the Republicans' iron mining bill intends.

Anonymous said...

anon@6:19, you're talking about the same DNR that gave a sludge-spreading operation a slap on the wrist for contaminating wells with nitrates.

Nitrates, mind you, that are a serious risk for any infants fed formula made with water from these wells. (Blue baby syndrome.)

Betsey said...

OMG! This post is so iron-y rich my English major miner and PunMeister are drilling overtime digging up these gems! More fun than shootin’ wolves from a helicopter! The excitement’s got me sprayin’ up extra punctuation marks all over the place and droppin’ my ‘G’s!!! That drill’s spinnin’ faster than a lobbyists’ loafer tassels at a public hearing!!!

Pyrite is Fools’ Gold that becomes toxic when it meets the air ??? (open air? sunlight? light of day?!) Ya don’t say!!!

Sandhill crane? It’s wots fer dinner!

And then my internal Wuerlitzer started droppin’ songs like old growth trees at the edge of a mining pit:

“Killing Me Softly with His Love” [That one is downright creepy, cometa think about it]

“He Blinded Me with Science” [sung by Rebecca Kleefisch]

And my fave by Herman’s Hermits:

“Donno much about history. [not in dispute]
Donno much bi-o-lo-gy. [Donno much ge-ol-o-g-y neither]
But I do know that I love you [mining]
And I know that if you love me too [Come back, Goegebic!]
Wot a wonderful world this would be. [How much $$ you’ll make exploiting Wisconsin’s natural resources!]
.. .. Don’t know much about science books [that’s 4 sure!]
Don’t know much about the French I took . . . [well, that’s Frog-speak, and we don’ need no stinkin’ frogs anyhoo]
Wot a wonderful world this would be.. . . " [yadda yadda yadda]

Joke alert: What’s 22 miles long, 2 miles wide and 1000 feet deep? The Goegebic-Company-Didn’t-Write-the-Mining-Law Credibility Gap! That’s what!

“The mining bill concerns ferrous mining, meaning that the environmental impact will be minimal.” Really? Is that what it means? You might want to explain that in a little more detail to dear old Mrs. C. , my 8th grade Grammar Teacher who ran herself out of red ink writing in my margins and everyone else’s too: BACK IT UP!

“Ferrous mining for iron uses magnets . . . . The magnets separate the metal from rock.”

My visual imagery/metaphor-maker is picturing a gi-normous magnet that calls the iron to the surface in a feat of great scientific attraction, much like the Pied Piper musically leading laughing children out of the village. Or the iron wills itself to the surface, bursting forth from the confining landscape like the Incredible Hulk’s clothes ripping away from his bulging muscles. And then the iron goes around in a Ferrous wheel, each seat stopping when it reaches bottom to drop its small load of ore, the same as passengers departing a Ferris Wheel when the ride’s over.