Monday, January 14, 2013

Mining Bill Latest Walker Divide-And-Conquer Ploy

It was Gov. Walker himself who introduced "divide-and-conquer" to contemporary Wisconsin politics by manipulating everyday taxpayers and private-sector workers against public employees.

That and other examples, here.

Now Walker and his legislative lieutenants are on to Divide-And-Conquer/Mining 2.0 - -  pitting north against south, and a sluggish economy against environmentalists and a cleaner landscape - - frequent Walker targets - - and against Native Americans whose reservation and water supply would be degraded by miles of long, wide and deep open pit iron mines that Walker's 'mining reform' bill (the existing law works just fine) would help carve out of the Penokee Hills near Lake Superior.

Two years of Walker's ideologically-driven, pro-business efforts to create jobs have fallen flat. He's way short of benchmarks to hit his ridiculous bumper-sticker campaign promise of 250,000 new jobs by January, 2015.

His "Open For Business" border signs were a joke.

His tax breaks haven't worked - - except to reward corporate supporters.

Neither has his signature-and-failed Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation - - a spectacularly wasteful and incompetently run, CEO-friendly replacement for the Department of Commerce. Millions in dubious loans were not tracked. Money is gone through defaults. It's a mess.

Remember: this is his baby, and he is its chair

So back again, and against this backdrop of failings, comes the mining bill he lost a year ago because too many State Senators couldn't stomach its secretive, special-interest crafting by the Assembly and its disregard for both the treaty rights of the Bad River Ojibwe Band and waters that flow into Lake Superior.

But now Walker has a larger working majority in the Senate, and has been pushing mining legislation on a statewide tour - - all in the name of jobs (read: Save my backside).

While inflating the mine's potential job creation, ignoring the likelihood that the mining company would bring in out-of-state workers) and overlooking losses in tourism and recreation employment incompatible with mountain-top removal blasting, air pollution, trucking, acid runoff and on-site smelting.

Care to go fishing in the Bad River watershed with gargantuan trucks rumbling by, dynamite blasts in the background, dust in the air and pyrite sulfates in the water?

Walker, mining interests and legislators under their control will say an iron mine up north is the silver bullet for the economy, when, in fact, a mining bill based on the dreadful Assembly version that is again being touted in the GOP-controlled legislature is little more than jobs'-loss cover for Walker's failed policies.

What will be created?

A divided state.

Plenty of ill will.

Angst for people who love the land or who are being willfully ignored by the state on the Bad River Reservation.

Years of wasted staff work by state agencies -- at our expense - - and more legal costs for mine opponents who will prove in court that the proposed mine is a political fiasco and charade that offends the Wisconsin Constitution's Public Trust [for Water] Doctrine, the US Clean Water Act and tribal treaty rights.

This iteration of divide-and-conquer is a damaging and shameful loser.


Voices Newspaper Blog said...

All spot on and points we've been sharing -- your voice is important, so thanks for expressing your thoughtful reflections.

It is outrageous that Wisconsin's media echo-chamber allows him to create a jobs crisis and then exploit that jobs crisis to benefit out-of-state multinational corporate interests. The media has been complicit with Walker's sham politics, including this latest divide and conquer.

Wisconsin's media has lied to us for weeks now, proclaiming Walker will avoid controversy and act as a "moderate". This issue was so divisive in 2012 that they couldn't railroad it through.

Your posts are always excellent, highlighting important issues that fly under the media radar as "inconvenient".

I appreciate posts like this that provide more context, your perspectives, and analysis -- good and important read.

I also hope you continue with the "divide and conquer" theme -- this is exactly what we are seeing and explains why despite Walker's endless promises, his policies are not designed to help the Badger State -- they aim to exploit division and wholly-manufactured crisis.

Gareth said...

I spent a week this summer vacationing in the region surrounding the Penokees. I was amazed by the beauty of the region and the tremendous water resources that attract so many tourists.

Tourism is a renewable economic resource. The year round visitors and the multitude of vacation homes provide much more revenue and many more jobs than a mountain-top removal mine ever will. Tourism dollars stays in the region and is an economic multiplier, but mining revenue will be funneled out of state, probably to the Cayman Islands.

When the mine closes, those jobs will be gone and all that will be left is polluted water and a devastated tourism industry. Those who own vacation homes may want to consider what will happen to their property values when the rivers and lakes become acidified from mine run-off.

Take a look at what mountain-top removal mining has done to West Virginia. It will sicken you.

Maire said...

Just to put it out there...

The "divide and conquer" strategy could also be a front to make major changes in order to achieve some other end.

Any ideas? My initial thought is that this will be the biggest strike at the Public Trust Doctrine and it might open a door to killing it.

Thoughts? I know it is part of the State Constitution, so should be "safe." But...

That mine site is terrible...and will likely not get federal permits and/or will face a court challenge. It almost seems like a big hullaballoo to divert our attention to do something equally bad where there is no (or less) resistance.

Sorry, I'll take my tin-foil hat off now.

Anonymous said...

This mine is going to be the best thing to happen to Wisconsin since the Flambeau mine. The environmental threats are all bogus and it isn’t even close to any Indian reservation. Those people up there who still work for a living are all for it. Time to drill, blast and dig our way to prosperity. I just can’t wait to get up there and see it.

JB said...

But will you live there, Anon 7:27 pm? Somehow I doubt it. It won't be a very pretty sight (or site).

Anonymous said...

The mining bill is really about providing stealth approval and cover for massive frac sand mining for Koch brothers -- their WATCO/WSOR RR will haul much of it, kicking back freight revenues to Koch.

This essentially gives them FREE frac sand and entirely justifies the millions they have invested in the likes of scott walker and now his criminal defense fund.

And scottie is going to need it -- even his rat lawyers are jumpin' ship.