I see only minor changes in the mining bill amendments (language and Leg Council analysis, here) - - offered Monday by Republican sponsors.
The bill still aims to put a massive open pit mine many miles long (euphemistically called an easily-filled "ditch," though it would go 1,000 feet deep and a few thousand feet wide, too ) in the wrong place - - at a river headwaters, below pristine hills and closely upriver from a rice-growing culture's lands.
The Journal Sentinel notes that the bill still loosens environmental standards and still contains one of the industry's non-negotiable demands that helped kill a similar bill last year - - moving the crucial public "contested case" hearing on a mining application that now would take place before the DNR makes a ruling to a point in the process after the DNR were to rule on the permit.
The amendments made no changes in the bill's treatment of contested case hearings, which could be used by opponents after the DNR makes a decision on a permit. State law now says such a review occurs before a final decision, and opponents say by pushing back the hearings their hand is weakened in challenging a mining application.
Contested case hearings are quasi-judicial proceedings that allow citizens to challenge actions by the DNR.And the proposed amendments try to work around acid runoff from sulfide-bearing waste rock likely to find its way into the Bad River watershed - - compromising the US Clean Water Act and historic water and landscape protections in the Wisconsin State Constitution's Public Trust Doctrine.
These seem like continuing serious problems to me, as does a bill-writing process that let the mining company call the shots while intentionally ignoring the treaty rights and physical proximity of the Bad River Ojibwe that live and grow the wild rice basic to its culture downstream from the mine site.
And have do so far before statehood.
I'd said the entire effort to site a mine beneath where the Penokee Hills rise more than a thousand feet near Lake Superior in Northwestern Wisconsin was a large-scale square-peg-in-a-round hole process.
Wiping a little lubricant on the edges of the peg isn't a solution.