Thursday, December 6, 2012

Some Dems Offer Mining Alternative

With the Democrats about to lose their Senate majority - - and hence authority behind proposals - - I see Janesville Senator Tim Cullen's mining alternative, containing some improvements to one-failed, unspeakably bad GOP Assembly plan - - as easily dismissed by incoming Republicans.

The bill adds about ten more months to an application's review period to the Assembly 420-day framework  - - in current law there is no 'one-size-fits all' review timetable and deadline - - and Cullen's proposal attempts to guarantee environmental protections - - though it's hard to see how an open pit iron ore mine like that which is back on the front burner near Ashland and that involves the removal of the top of the Penokee Hills to get at ore 1,000 deep, and many miles long, wouldn't harm the land, air and water table so close to the Bad River band's treaty-protected wild rice growing waterways.

The Cullen bill tries to finesse a major flaw in the Assembly version by retaining all-important public, quasi-judicial hearings on mining proposals as they are brought to the DNR - - but moves them in the process from prior to a DNR decision, as the law now stands, to a point in the process after the DNR has made a ruling.

The entire point of a hearing is for the DNR to hear testimony and see data produced in a before the agency makes what is supposed to be a dispassionate, science-based decision.

Putting it at the end of the process is an invitation to the DNR to simply 'let the ruling on the field stand.'

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