Environment/Energy

Stop the Frac Attack on Local Democracy, Take 2!

Sen. Tom Tiffany has introduced a revised version of SB349, the "Kneecapping Local Communities Bill" from last session that took aim at the rights of rural communities to pass ordinances regulating frac sand mining and other industrial activities that impact the environment and public health. In response to the bill and the explosion of frac sand mines in the state, 75 groups signed onto a resolution by WNPJ's Environmental Working Group calling for a halt to the mining and attacks on local control. Tiffany's revised bill, SB632, narrows the scope to preventing local governments from enacting any regulations that prevent new frac sand mining or the expansion of existing mines. A public hearing on the bill will take place on Monday, March 3, at 12 noon in Room 412 East of the State Capitol. The Wisconsin Farmer's Union will also hold a Farm and Rural Lobby Day the next day, March 4, and this will be one of the issues.

Citizens Peacefully Defy G-Tac's "Off-Limits" Zone

About 50 people gathered on Sunday, February 16, to call on Gogebic Taconite to respect the rights of the Bad River Ojibwe and halt all mining activity in the Penokee Hills. Those who were present crossed the boundary into Managed Forest land officially deemed "closed" under a special law passed for G-Tac's benefit last fall, allowing them to close off land around a mine site that would normally allow public access without paying significant tax penalties required of all other MFL landowners.

Two groups marched from either end of the site along State Highway 77 to converge on the access road being used by G-Tac for exploratory drilling and bulk sampling activity. The group sang songs and people walked into the sunny, snow-filled woods along the access road, an old railroad siding. Although everyone who came crossed into the "forbidden zone," no police showed up and nobody was cited for trespassing.

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.

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