Tue Feb 5, 2013, 06:47 AM
Scuba (35,917 posts)
Wisconsin: Mining Industry Targets “Prove It First” Law
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker recently told his supporters in Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce (WMC) that his top legislative priority in the January 2013 session of the legislature is the passage of the controversial Iron Mining bill that was defeated by one vote in the Wisconsin Senate last spring. To advance this agenda the governor has asked Tim Sullivan, his special assistant for business and workforce development, to bring together mining experts from around the world to compare Wisconsin’s mining regulatory framework with other states. Sullivan is chair of the Wisconsin Mining Association (WMA), a past director of the National Mining Association, and a former president, CEO, and director of Bucyrus International, the largest mining machinery company in the world, now owned by Caterpillar Corporation.
WMA hired Behre Dolbear, a global mining consulting firm that specializes in drafting mining laws to suit their corporate clients and “challenging” countries who are perceived to be hostile to the mining industry to change their policies. In their report they criticize the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) for allowing “public participation in technical meetings between the mining company and the WDNR prior to issuance of the EIS . This has led to the process delay, uninformed debates and the process grinding to a halt.” In other words, the problem is too much democracy and transparency in the mine permitting process.
The bill was written by lobbyists for Gogebic Taconite (GTac), part of the Cline Group, run by coal magnate Christopher Cline, who wants to extract low grade iron ore (taconite) from the Bad River watershed near Lake Superior. The entire rationale for separate legislation for proposed iron mining is based upon the misconception that iron mining is different from metallic sulfide mining and that therefore the existing sulfide mining laws do not apply to GTac. According to Sullivan, “We’re talking about digging a ditch, taking the iron ore, filling the ditch in. That’s as simple as what it is.”
The bill contains widespread exemptions from existing environmental regulations, severely limits public and tribal participation in the mine permitting process and ignores Ojibwe treaty rights on the lands sold to the U.S. in the 19th century. The giant open pit mine that would discharge pollutants into the Bad River Ojibwe Tribe’s sacred wild rice beds would be the largest mine in state history. It is only one of several mining projects proposed in the Lake Superior region (see “Resisting Resource Colonialism in the Lake Superior Region,” Z Magazine, September 2011).
3 replies, 948 views
Wisconsin: Mining Industry Targets “Prove It First” Law (Original post)
Response to Scuba (Original post)
Tue Feb 5, 2013, 07:56 AM
ewagner (17,609 posts)
1. An analogy
Passing this bill is like handing your child over to an obviously drunken driver...
Our most precious resources...Water...Lake Superior...Bad River...the sloughs...if this bill passes all of those will be handed off to people who could easily destroy them and they are telling us "trust us"...
They won't be here anymore after they extract the wealth from the mines.
Their Children won't grow up in the area after the water is polluted
They don't particularly care about the cultural heritage of the region.
They want us to "trust them" and remove those meddlesome laws that might keep them from getting an extra eight of a point increase in their share prices....
If you're legitimate you will bring us into the process and give us assurances REAL ONES that you will protect OUR resources. Otherwise you're just another set of robber-barons out for a fast buck.
Response to Scuba (Original post)
Tue Feb 5, 2013, 12:24 PM
hue (3,778 posts)
2. More...Legal challenges expected if Wisconsin mining bill passes
Republicans may be fast-tracking mining legislation, but legal challenges are expected soon after signing.
Litigation is so anticipated, in fact, that the bill includes a fiscal note from the Department of Justice requiring that funds be set aside to defend against "legal challenges," as well as to prosecute "law violations" related to mining.
"The only jobs created by their bill are going to be for lawyers," jokes Sen. Tim Cullen (D-Janesville), who has authored competing mining legislation.
Mike Wiggins, Jr., chairman of the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, anticipates that environmental groups and citizens groups will first sue regarding "violations of the Wisconsin Constitution and the public trust doctrine."
But he says his tribe, whose reservation occupies the northern portions of Ashland County, downstream of the proposed site of the Gogebic Taconite mine, will also "look at the legal realm and do whatever is necessary to protect ourselves too."
Sen. Tom Tiffany (R-Hazelhurst), one of the sponsors of Senate Bill 1 and Assembly Bill 1, says "there is no reason for a lawsuit."
"We think our bill is very sound," he adds. Amendments to the bill will be introduced at a Monday afternoon news conference.
Assembly and Senate Republicans introduced new ferrous (iron) mining legislation on January 18, which closely resembles a mining bill that failed to pass the Senate by one vote last year. An all-day public hearing on January 23 ended before all registered speakers had a chance to testify.
Response to hue (Reply #2)
Tue Feb 5, 2013, 02:00 PM
Scuba (35,917 posts)