Monday, April 21, 2014

Wisconsin's #1 Earth Day Issue Is The Open-Pit Iron Mine Plan

The Earth Day legacy begun by Wisconsin's own Gaylord Nelson in 1970 has been hijacked, contaminated and discarded by Gov. Walker, his legislative allies and their right-wing, petroleum-fueled enablers.

From frac sand mining to industrial-sized dairy operations to needless highway expansion, the Walkerites would fill, sell, pave and otherwise degrade the land and water on behalf of their special interest donors.

But one issue stands out - - the proposed GTac open pit mine in Ashland and Iron Counties now under review by a DNR whose hands were tied by special-interest legislation meant to enable the mine while leaving the land and waters exposed to ruin through mountain-top removal and acid mine drainage across the pristine Bad River watershed.

All Wisconsin environmental, land use and social justice groups have agendas, practices and beliefs that are offended by the massive open-pit iron ore mine proposed just upstream from the Bad River Ojibwe Band's land, drinking water sources and rice-growing estuaries in NW Wisconsin.

Right at Lake Superior - - the deepest and cleanest of the five Great Lakes that together make up 20% of the world's fresh surface water supply.

Every group and person of good will in Wisconsin should incorporate their opposition to this mine in their April 22nd Earth Day 2014 programs, statements and actions - - not to minimize other issues, as there are many, but to highlight and connect them all.

I've been making this argument these last few weeks, here, here and elsewhere.

Preliminary sample drilling and regulatory work is already underway following special interest legislation that was written with and for the mining company at the expense of the environment and existing Wisconsin law.

Let's hope people, groups and communities of concern in this state can speak with one voice on this all-encompassing issue that was recently reported on, in depth, by The New York Times.

Which means the whole world is watching.


Jim Limbach said...

Well said. There is a reason the second incarnation of the mining bill is Act 1. It's what the oligarchs want the most. There will be No Mine in the Penokee Hills!

Steve Carlson said...

Once a month, ( a Monday ) State Senator Bob Jauch does a roughly 30 minute interview on WOJB community radio, broadcast from the Lac Courte Oreilles reservation. For the last four months in a row Senator Jauch has said he doesn't believe we'll ever see an open pit iron mine in the Penokee Hills, at least not in our lifetimes. He's even gone so far as to say he thinks GTac may not get a permit. Yet the mine opposition movement is at a near constant fever pitch, making demands that politicians declare themselves in opposition to a mine that doesn't appear to be economically or environmentally viable. Meanwhile, the issues that might bring drop-off and new voters to the polls to defeat pro-mine politicians, like Badgercare expansion and raising the minimum wage, are not on their radar screen. We play checkers, the other side plays chess.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Steve. While some energy should go into opposing the mine, mainly because of the horrible mining law that the company wrote and required the legislature to pass, there are other more pressing problems. Sand mining, discharge permitting, drinking water protection, the dead zones in Green Bay and the Gulf of Mexico, Air pollution, and preservation of natural areas are all more urgent needs.

James Rowen said...

My position has been that these issues are all related.

Steve Carlson said...


My point isn't that there are more pressing problems. My point is that loudly opposing a mine that isn't likely to happen won't produce the votes we need to defeat Walker and his ilk. We need to take up the issues that matter to low income drop off and new voters, like Badgercare expansion and raising the minimum wage, and then maybe we'll have the political power to address the issues that matter to environmentalists. That's what I meant with the checkers/chess remark.