Wednesday, February 6, 2013

How The Mining Bill Sacrifices Wisconsin Waters

Attorney Dennis Grzezinski explains in detail how the mining bill disregards and harms Wisconsin waters:

Municipalities and homeowners with wells could lose their drinking water supplies if a mining company draws down the groundwater sources in their approved mining operation. 

According to the proposed mining bill, the DNR must permit an iron mining company to locate as many high-capacity wells wherever it wants to supply as much water as it needs for its mining and processing and related activities. 

With only one exception, DNR would have no authority or power to prevent the mining company from drying up lakes, rivers, streams, ponds, springs, wetlands or wells, so long as the company was willing to take steps to improve groundwater anywhere else in the state. 

The only exception is that DNR would be required to include conditions to protect “privately owned high-capacity” wells (i.e., private businesses) from mining company drawdown of water (or the mining company must pay them out), but would not have any power to protect municipal water sources or private residential wells.  

(This screams for a headline, or more letters to the editor.) 

So you would be out of luck if your individual well runs dry or your municipal water runs out.  The DNR would be required to allow this drawdown, if the mining company wants it, once the law takes effect and a mine is permitted.

The proposed mining bill does away with any limits on polluting ground water deeper than 1000 feet, even if water supply aquifers would be at risk if such pollution occurred underneath the mine.

 Monitoring of that deep groundwater also would not be required.  Not only does this eliminate state regulatory safeguards for drinking water, but the absence of information regarding the pollution source could make it much harder years or decades later for those whose water supplies have been contaminated to prove that the mine was the cause of the pollution.

Under the bill, individual citizens couldn’t enforce permit limitations.  Many existing environmental permitting laws, including Wisconsin’s current mining laws, authorize citizens who are harmed by violations of environmental permits to sue the polluter, essentially on behalf of the state or federal government, to enforce the permit limitations. 

These sorts of “citizen suit” provisions have been included in many state and federal environmental laws to protect citizens from the potential failure of state regulators to take enforcement action, which could happen if state agencies are understaffed or lack resources needed to enforce the permits they have issued, if the threat of jobs being lost or companies moving is made, or if political pressure is brought to prevent enforcement against a particular permit holder or industry, or even as a result of bribery or corruption of someone  responsible for enforcement.  

The proposed mining bill eliminates “citizen suits” to enforce iron mining permits.

If mining were safe, GTac and Republican leadership wouldn’t need to make these changes to the existing Mining Law, and the mining company wouldn’t need all the exemptions from existing environmental regulations and exemptions from liability from municipalities and private property holders.


Steve Schmuki said...

First and foremost I do not want to see this mine built. Long term it will be a horrible substitute for the currently more sustainable, hunting, fishing, recreating, forestry and general tourism that the area supports now. Furthermore, I suggest the legislature and the Governor require that Gogebic put its money where its mouth is. Simply, have the company escrow with the State the money required to repair and restore the Penokees to thier former glory.This includes restoring the water quality, air quality and landscape. And, by the way they can also escrow the money necessary to guarantee the wages and associated economic side benefits they tout for the entire length of time they claim these benefits will occur. They won't do it because they can't do it. Tells me all I need to know.

Anonymous said...

cavemen knew better than to deficate and wee-wee where they eat, drink, and live.

bears know better too.

it is only with the propaganda in wisconsin's media echo-chamber that this great fraud can be perpetrated.

So why does everyone want to make this all about walker and the mining companies instead of the corporate shills that lie to us daily?

No one that is concerned about the mining bill or divisive politics enabled by propaganda should buy any product associated with, advertised in, or produced by lee enterprises, journal communications, gannett, clear channel, and the handful of teabaggin' radical extremist publishers in places like ripon, janesville, and eau claire.

Generating page views screaming about the mining bill serves no real purpose if we give the media a free pass.

So for what purpose do you do this? (hint: part of the echo chamber, are we?)

Disgraceful that media folks have no courage to talk about the real problem -- our media and the dumbing down of the masses.

Remember, Wisconsin is one of the biggest brain-drain states in America!

The steadily growing masses of ignorant and poorly educated folks here increasingly turn to lying liars for information!

Sonoma Badger said...

With all due respect Anonymous 6:15, I agree with your assessments and opinions, except for your gratuitous snark on Rowen. MSM (journal Sentinal, wisconsin state journal, &tc) deserve condemnation. Write a letter to the editor(s) to express your anger/disappointment/outrage. Do not offload on one of the few voices actually exposing the issues or blame him for the 20 cents he's probably not getting from "page views". Not a very convincing segue to get on your hobby horse.

Laurie Longtine said...

"If mining were safe, GTac and Republican leadership wouldn’t need to make these changes to the existing Mining Law, and the mining company wouldn’t need all the exemptions from existing environmental regulations and exemptions from liability from municipalities and private property holders."

Truer words were never written. Thanks, Dennis, for pointing out this obvious, yet legislature-and media-ignored logic. To take your argument a half-step further, if G-Tac isn't going to mine in an environmentally-damaging way, why go to the trouble of rolling back and exempting itself from current standards?

Also in the rhetorical question department: Why is the state of Wisconsin so eager to jump in the sack with these creepy, regulation-flouting coal miners? Well, why does anyone sleep with unsavory characters? Money. So you know what that makes us.

Anonymous said...

somona -- why would I write a letter for a propaganda shill to purchase.

Only morons read that paper and those that write for that fascist rag have some culpability for propping up the propaganda.

Anonymous said...

Laurie -- the public DOES NOT support this, this is part of the great lie our media disseminates in unison.

The bigger problem is the fact people, even most progressives, believe the fundamental dishonesty that underlies the larger lies and propaganda.

Laurie Longtine said...

Anonymous 6:12 AM:

If you're going to call me out by name while you remain anonymous, please extend to me the courtesy of explaining what the heck you're saying.

The public does not support WHAT?
WHAT great lie does "our media" disseminate?
WHAT fundamental dishonesty?
Are you a follower of Confuse-us?

I've re-read my own comment several times and cannot find in it a reference or the word 'public'. My reference to the media relates to what they ignore, not what they disseminate.