[Updated Tuesday, 12:02 a.m.] I recommend a long scene-setter in Monday's Journal Sentinel about preliminary environmental research underway in Northern Wisconsin by an out-of-state coal company operator who wants to dig, in a pristine watershed near Lake Superior, the country's largest open-pit iron ore mine.
The story headline asks whether the mine can "pass muster," and readers will see assurances that the whole process is under close scrutiny.
But remember this:
Wisconsin's mining law was rewritten by insiders, in part, to allow what the bill's main author called "adverse impacts" to the environment, said State Sen. Tom Tiffany, R-Hazelhurst. Even if a judge were to look at it.
“If the law is challenged and ends up in court, the judge needs to know it was the Legislature’s intent to allow adverse (environmental) impacts. That way, a judge can’t find fault if the environment is impacted.”So following the environmental law in search of an iron mining permit these days means following a law that permits environmental damage.
Sorta takes the steam out of some of those assurances, doesn't it, since the game is now rigged even more heavily in favor of the house.
Other changes in the law also allow for wetland, stream, river and lake filling, with promised mitigation - - but would you rather have a stream constructed by Mother Nature, or one created with bulldozers somewhere with the claim that it will be just as good, useful, and sustainable as the original?
Finally, following the new law lets a mining company benefit from a defanged hearing process in which it no longer has to swear to the accuracy of their permit filing prior to the DNR making a ruling on it.
All in all, the company has been gifted by a special-iterest compliant GOP Governor and legislature a greatly eased mining law to follow at the public and environment's expense without running afoul of much-reduced legal obligations.
I see a lot of disorder in law and order like that.