Friday, November 1, 2013

Forest Closing 'Compromise' Shows Mining Company's Reach

When you don't succeed in closing off access to thousands of acres of tax-subsidized forest for a special-interest, well - - try again.

That's the method being pursued by GOP legislators bringing back, on a smaller scale, the earlier failed effort by State Sen. Tom Tiffany, (R-Hazelhurst), to close forest access on behalf of GTAC mining and its controversial plan to dynamite the Penokee Hills.

And create what could be the largest open-pit iron mine in the world.

Never mind that Tiffany isn't the lead sponsor on this 'good-cop' pro-mine version offered by State Sen. Bob Cowles, (R-Green Bay), or that asbestos has been found on the proposed mining area in Northern Wisconsin near Lake Superior, or that the Bad River Band's treaty-protected waters and lands are downstream: GTAC has its team in place and continues to get room service from the Legislature and Governor's office.

More than two years ago, emails between a mining company lobbyist and Governor Walker's office offered details about how the bill was drafted and the "important role" on the "Response Team" envisioned for then-State Rep. and now State Sen. Tiffany. 

You can read the entire email exchange - - and I'd call your attention to two emails on July 29, 2011 in pdf format - - here.

You rarely see such an explicit discussion of how the Governor's office and key legislators work with special interests.

Little wonder Tiffany even now finds a way to fret the new bill replacing his doesn't go far enough:

Tiffany said he supports the compromise but worries that it might not go far enough to protect workers, such as biologists or wetlands specialists who are roaming the entire property.
And, again, who else would be leading the effort to further deregulate mining in the state and to further cut local governments and citizens out of the picture?

GOP-led redistricting has embedded legislators like Tiffany more or less permanently, so this level of special-interest servitude - - details about the mining company's 2011 lobbying push are here - - will direct state policy for a long time.


Ken in Milwaukee said...

Did you write "world's largest open pit mine?"

That boggles my mind.

James Rowen said...

I wrote ""could be the largest open-pit iron mine in the world.

RogerDBybee said...

Dear Jim:
Thanks for compiling this and providing such a rich stream of the most vital news reports filtered through your keen analysis.

Three things progressives in Wisconsin need:

1) More sharing among progressive websites of great work like yours,
Ed Garvey's Fighting Bob and Citizen Action's.

2) A conference of Wisconsin's progressive bloggers to discuss how to collaborate more and amplify the progressive voice.

3) Recruitment of particularly astute "letters to the editor" writers to do more writing, in terms of blogs, wider distribution of letters, and doing op-eds which can be distributed to all media in the state via Wisconsin Forum, of which I am the chair.

We need more discussion on these and additional ideas. Best, Roger Bybee

James Rowen said...

Thank you, Roger. I am always available to work with others.