Mine Bill Update
The mining bill, AB 426, currently awaits an executive session of the Joint Finance Committee, which will likely vote to pass it to the full Senate, its last stop before Governor Walker's desk. There it faces uncertainty as to whether it will pass. Meanwhile, Senators Jauch and Schultz introduced a new piece of compromise legislation to the Joint Finance Committee, that leaves out a lot of the damaging provisions of AB 426 but still imposes unreasonably short timelines for iron mine permitting on the DNR. (Click here for our analysis of the new mining bill.)
The Bad River Band of Ojibwe put out ten principles for any new mining legislation to follow, but they were completely left out of the drafting of this bill, in violation of their treaty rights. At a February 17 Joint Finance Committee hearing on the bill, over 75% of those in attendance registered or testified against, including two geologists who testified that the rock in the Penokee Hills that would be unearthed by a mine contains up to 20% pyrite, a sulfide mineral, resulting in a grave risk of acid mine drainage from the proposed mine.
What you can do:
1. It is imperitive to call your Senators NOW and tell them that NO mine bill is acceptable that does not meet the Bad River Tribe's ten principles or include direct consultation with the tribes.
2. Join the second RALLY TO BURY THE MINE BILL, which will be held on the State Street Capitol Steps at 5 PM the day before the Senate votes on the bill (date TBA).
3. Educate your friends, family, neighbors, and co-workers about the Penokee Mine and how this legislation puts Wisconsin's water, environment, and indigenous treaty rights at risk!
Background: On Friday, Feb. 17, mine bill opponents packed a hearing on AB 426 before the legislature's Joint Finance committee, after Senate majority leader Scott Fitzgerald cancelled a planned public hearing about the mine that was to be held in Platteville on Thursday, dissolving the special committee that had been created to draft a Senate mining bill. The Senate legislation would have made cosmetic changes to the bill passed by the Assembly earlier in February, which would fast-track a strip-mining project in northern Wisconsin's Penokee hills by limiting public input and environmental oversight. AB 426 would make it easier for mining companies to fill wetlands and divert navigable waters, reduce the number of public hearings during the process from six to two, and exempt strip mines from floodplain rules, threatening the loss of federal flood insurance for thousands of Wisconsin property owners. The Walker administration has identified the mining bill, large sections of which were drafted by representatives of an out-of-state mining company, as one of its top legislative priorities.