Gov. Walker will sign the mining bill Monday afternoon at manufacturing companies in Rhinelander and Milwaukee.
He will tout the bill and open-pit iron ore mining as environmentally-friendly, law-abiding, treaty-respecting and job-creating.
Nothing could be farther from the truth.
The mining bill establishes a privileged class of iron mining corporations (allowed to write and edit legislation behind closed doors) with special rights in Wisconsin (more about special classes and rights at the end of this posting).
The bill lets GTAC - - a West Virginia mountain-top removal business with no experience in iron mining:
* Dynamite the Penokee Hills, tear apart the Bad River region and fill portions of its watershed with a gigantic open-pit mine.
* Set the stage for the release of sulphuric acid mining drainage upstream from culturally-significant wild-rice estuaries while exempting the company from having to protect public water rights.
* Evade long-standing Constitutional guarantees, reasonable regulation or meaningful public participation in the state permitting review.
* Pay no mining taxes.
And while other firms must pay a fee of $7 per ton for waste generated, GTAC will be required to cough up less than three cents per ton towards remediation funding or other public programs though the open-pit mine 1,000 feet deep, a half-mile wide and up to 22 miles long is projected to generate tens of millions of cubic yards of waste rock annually.
For 35 years.
To solemnly say that iron mines will be required by the bill to follow the law when the bill intentionally guts or displaces the law is a sick, Soviet-style rhetorical dodge.
As to much-needed jobs in Wisconsin and the economically-depressed Northwestern part of the state - - in an economy Walker artificially depressed through Act 10 austerity - - other than a few company surveyor and geologist hours at the site committed until injuctions hit, no actual mining jobs are created by the bill now, or for a long time to come.
And given the multiplicity of complex litigation headed our way because the bill is so badly flawed there will be no miners or truck drivers or machinists or manufacturers hired for many years, if ever.
In fact, GOP bill managers turned aside a Democratic amendment to require GTAC to hire Wisconsin workers, leaving the firm free to bring in its own, out-of-state work force.
All of which Walker knows as his remarks are being drafted and vetted by public and private spinmeisters alike.
So let's tell the truth:
The bill makes no immediate or predictable dent in state or regional unemployment.
If Walker really had cared about these issues beyond making empty boasts about creating 250,000 new private sector jobs, and blathering on in talkingpointspeak about "certainty" and "flexibility" he would have come into office two years ago with a blueprint for northern Wisconsin employment beyond the mining bill.
He would have laid out a process and goals with everyone at the table - - including the Native tribes his party has excluded from the mining bill's drafting.
And, by the way: what is the negative effect on recreation and tourism jobs created by preliminary logging, road-building and then finally the blasting, air pollution and run-off from a massive open-pit mine carved into the Bad River headwaters and throughout Lake Superior watersheds?
Which brings us to the treaties signed by the United States Government with the Chippewa (Ojibwe) in the 19th century:
The bill simply pretends the treaties are not there. Call it legislating with Windex, regardless if Walker invokes them with a few throw-away lines that have no honesty behind them.
The bill, from drafting to adoption to signing, is a deliberate stick in the eye, a stab in the heart, by the worst elements in the majority culture which already obtained and run the current State of Wisconsin with its vast timber, water and real estate wealth - - just as they run the country and much of North America from sea to shining sea - - by a mixture of violence, coercion, and trickery and a handful of treaties often disrespected or broken.
A majority culture with all the power, but which now wants every last molecule of land, breath of clean air, moment of quietude and grain of rice, regardless of treaty promises made, from the Bad River Band living on a remaining narrow strip of its lands on the south shore of Lake Superior.
On behalf of an out-of-state coal mining company, Walker wants to control and devalue that, too.
In other words, the private-sector obeisant Walkerites running the government want everything, and will do anything, say anything, contort anything, to devalue and effectively take that, too.
Shame on me for further distributing the anonymous toxin that flows as comments into this blog, but someone on this posting Friday summed up the ignorance and bad intentions to which Walker and his exclusionist legislative allies have been playing:
The battle that is brewing is that over treaty rights issues and the Walker administration is eager and willing to tear into this with the same energy and expertise. By the time this is over there will no longer be a privileged class of people with special rights above those of the rest of us.The writer of that comment overlooks and turns upside down which people in Wisconsin were made special by having full legal rights through business as usual, and who did not:
* Native Americans had their land stolen repeatedly, were shoved on to reservations, were not granted US citizenship until 1924 or the guaranteed right to vote in all states until 1957.
* African-Americans were declared by the US Constitution having representational rights equal to three-fifths of whites.
* Women in the United States were not granted the right to vote until 1920.
So spare me the empty rhetoric about rights, the law, and the environment - - whether from the Governor or the Internet trolls who carry his water.