Environment/Energy

Jeff Patterson, co-founder of PSR Wisconsin, dies

We're very sad to hear, via member group PSR-Wisconsin, that Dr. Jeff Patterson, a warm and wise man devoted to human health, the environment, and the abolition of nuclear weapons, has passed.  Below is PSR's statement on his loss.

Jeff Patterson, DO, Madison physician and professor was an indefatigable champion serving Physicians  for Social Responsibility (PSR) Wisconsin and will be sorely missed by all who knew and worked with him. Jeff passed away on Thursday night, January 23, of a heart attack.

Dr. Patterson's first work with PSR was to establish the Madison PSR chapter. With two other founding members and students at the UW medical school, they challenged the concept of a “winnable nuclear war.” Hundreds of people joined to formalize the Madison PSR chapter in 1983. Jeff remained very active in the chapter throughout three decades, and particularly enjoyed providing direction to interested medical students and nurturing their understanding of humanitarian ethics and activism. 

Citizens Groups to Lawmakers: Stop Frac Sand Mining and SB 349

WNPJ has sent a resolution calling for a ban on frac sand mining and a halt to attacks on local democracy to Governor Scott Walker, members of the Wisconsin Legislature, State and Federal environmental regulators, and the media.
 
It calls for the rejection of SB 349, a bill introduced last fall that would outlaw local ordinances regulating frac sand mining, local air and water quality, or blasting. The bill impacts communities facing water contamination from factory farms and potential iron mining in addition to frac sand areas. Although the legislation raised an outcry from democracy advocates, it is likely to be reintroduced in the new session.
 
The resolution was created by WNPJ's Environmental Working Group and has been endorsed by more than 75 civic and environmental organizations, including 49 Wisconsin groups and 29 groups from seven other states where Wisconsin sand is used for hydraulic fracturing.

You can add your name to the resolution against SB 349 and frac sand mining.

G-Tac Nov. 25 Bulk Sampling Application and Dec. 2 Stormwater Permit Comments

To: Larry Lynch, WI DNR

Dear Mr. Lynch,

 

This is being posted publicly as an open letter. I urge you to share these comments with colleagues and halt G-Tac’s attempt to do bulk sampling with inadequate preparation and precautions in place.

WNPJ Resolution: Stop the Frac Sand Mining Industry

The WNPJ Environmental Working Group has put together a resolution telling state lawmakers and the media that the citizens of Wisconsin are fed up with frac sand mining threatening our state's environment, quality of life, and local democracy. We are looking for groups from around the state and around the country to sign on to this resolution. If you would like to sign on, please e-mail carl@wnpj.org. The deadline for groups to sign on is January 8. Individuals who wish to sign on may do so at this petition

G-Tac Bulk Sampling and Williams' Spanish Crime

Photo: Cobre Las Cruces copper mine, owned by Canada-based First Quantum Minerals, in 2008 after its walls collapsed. The mine was under the direction of now-GTac president Bill Williams, who ignored government reports that the walls were unstable. (Credit: Ecologistas en Acción)Photo: Cobre Las Cruces copper mine, owned by Canada-based First Quantum Minerals, in 2008 after its walls collapsed. The mine was under the direction of now-GTac president Bill Williams, who ignored government reports that the walls were unstable. (Credit: Ecologistas en Acción)

On November 25, Gogebic Taconite submitted a new bulk sampling plan to the Wisconsin DNR. If the DNR approves this plan, it will be the go-ahead for G-Tac to start blasting the asbestos-filled rock in the Penokee Hills. Among other gems, the plan contains the statement that "no groundwater has been identified at the bulk sample sites" (in the very moist Penokee Hills). 

Gogebic Taconite's claims that they can mine the Penokee Hills safely is an insult to the intelligence of Wisconsinites. While many DNR employees are competent and professional, the company is likely to collude with the agency's politically-appointed heads to force the plan to be approved quickly, possibly before the public has a chance to respond.

Outrageous bill to block public access from G-Tac mine site

A bill that would block public access to the land in the Penokee Hills where Gogebic Taconite wants to build an open-pit iron mine was passed by the state Senate last week and is expected to move through the Assembly soon (Call your Representative now!). Introduced in August, SB 278 has been roundly condemned by environmentalists, Native Americans, hunters, and tax fairness advocates as another giveaway to G-Tac by their bought-and-paid-for elected officials.

Stop the Frac Attack on Local Democracy!

Citizens rally against frac sand mining bill

Photo courtesy of Stacy Harbaugh, Midwest Environmental Advocates
 
A rally of around 200 people organized in part by WNPJ took place at the State Capitol on Thursday, Oct. 24 to protest SB 349, introduced by State Sen. Tom Tiffany and Rep. Joan Ballweg. SB 349 would take away local governments' ability to pass ordinances to protect their air and water, regulate blasting, and recoup costs to taxpayers from industrial use of local roads. A public hearing on the bill lasted from 9:30 AM to 9:00 PM. Many citizens from western Wisconsin who spent hours on a bus to get to and from Madison were not allowed to speak before they had to return home, while representatives of frac sand mining companies and Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce got first billing from Tiffany & company.
 
While Assembly speaker Robin Vos has said that house will not take up the bill this session, it could be passed by the Senate now and voted on by the Assembly in the spring. The legislation was introduced at the behest of frac sand companies seeking to permit new mines quickly, with no regulation or government oversight. But the impact of the bill goes far beyond communities dealing with frac sand; it takes away local democracy from everyone in Wisconsin
 

Successes for the Wisconsin River and Vermont

Last week, the Lower Wisconsin State Riverway Board voted 6 to 2 against a frac sand mine proposed next to the Wisconsin River, near the Iowa border.

Those who spoke at the Board's meeting were overwhelmingly opposed to the mine, as were the Board members themselves.

"The members felt that visual intrusions from potential dust and lighting would cause the activity to become visible from the river," explained the Board's director.

In other good environmental news, Entergy announced it would close its Vermont Yankee nuclear reactor at the end of 2014.  The nuclear company said the reactor was "no longer financially viable."

Wisconsin's Kewaunee nuclear reactor was shut down in May, also due to economic factors.

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