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All I Want for Christmas
is Huge Strip Mine
John Ikerd

Mine In A Box 

That's certainly at the top of the list for Florida-based Gogebic Taconite, the company that wants to dig a 22-mile long, 1.5 mile wide, 1000 feet deep gash in Northern Wisconsin (for perspective, next time you make the drive from downtown Milwaukee westward to Pewaukee, think about a strip mine running the distance).  And the Assembly Committee on Jobs, the Economy and Small Business appears happy to oblige.   


It only took them 7 months to write a bill that's even worse than the scary one we saw back in spring.  On Thursday, December 8, the committee released LRB 3520, written in secret with the help of a few mining industry attorneys, and scheduled for public hearing next Wednesday, December 14. 


Poisonous Water? It's For Your Own Good 

All the talk from Gogebic Taconite and a number of legislators has been that Wisconsin needs to change their mining law to shorten permit review timelines and create an objective review process.  Well, the term "timeline" is mentioned on a total of 15 pages of the 183 page bill, which leaves the other 168 to focus on broad exemptions from environmental standards, silencing the voices of the people most impacted by a mine, and requirements for DNR to make meaningless, subjective decisions.   


In this bill, mining is assumed to be a public benefit that outweighs and trumps all other concerns.  If the mining company says they need to contaminate groundwater, have at it.  Suck a nearby well dry?  It's in the public good.  Fill a wetland or dump waste in a stream?  All necessary for the almighty mine.  The bill provides special rules for mining that exempt them from standards and processes afforded no other industry, business or citizen in the state.


Wednesday's hearing may be the only one before the Assembly takes action.   

To add insult to injury, not only was the bill written in a back room with no input other than from the mining industry, but citizens of the state are expected to read and digest an extremely complicated and technical bill and then drive to Milwaukee for their one shot at commenting on the most outlandish attack on environmental protections in years.   


Yes, the hearing is at State Fair Park in Milwaukee, about as far as you can get from the mine site and still be in Wisconsin.  The Assembly committee is counting on broad turnout from companies associated with manufacture of mining equipment in the Milwaukee area, hence the location, even though Tim Sullivan, a representative of the manufacturing industry has publically stated a new mine up north will not create any new manufacturing jobs in the Milwaukee area. 


Read Our Lips: No LRB 3520! 

A strong showing from those of us who value our natural resources and a fair lawmaking process, and reject special treatment for an out-of-state company set to take what they can and leave a mess behind, will be critical to stopping this horrible bill.  We'll send out talking points on Monday, but in the mean time, please try to plan to come to the hearing or if you can't make it, contact the committee members:  No on LRB 3520!


Hearing time and location:

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

10:00 AM

State Fair Park Milwaukee

Tommy G. Thompson Youth Center

Click here for directions