On December 6, the Mining Impact Coalition hosted a forum at the Northland College Alvord Theater with Appalachian mining activist Bob Kincaid, Bad River Tribal Chair Mike Wiggins, and Jessica Koski from the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community in Michigan. All three speakers gave powerful testimony about how damaging metallic mining is to the health, economy, and water of the communities that are impacted. Kincaid pointed out that 4,000 people a year die from causes related to mining in Appalachia, and iron mining in Wisconsin would have similar effects here.
As Wisconsin families plan for Thanksgiving dinners, they don't know the boom in silica sand mining here for hydraulic fracturing ("fracking") elsewhere threatens our cranberry bogs, writes dairy farmer and vice-president of Family Farm Defenders Joel Greeno in the Capital Times.
"In addition to the loss of productive farmland, fracking uses huge amounts of water. Cranberry bogs are meticulously designed to take advantage of the water stored in the marshes, which is necessary for harvesting, and growers generally set aside seven acres of land for every acre planted to store this water. Marshes surrounded by sand pits will eventually lose water as it seeps into the pits, leaving berry growers high and dry."
By mid-2013, the Kewaunee nuclear reactor near Green Bay will be shuttered by its owner, Virginia-based Dominion Resources. But its toxic legacy will be far from over.
"Initial shutdown expenses for the creaking, leaking 39-year-old monster — waste management and reactor dismantling, containerizing and transporting to dump sites — are roughly predictable," John LaForge of Nukewatch, a WNPJ member group, writes in the Capital Times.
"Dominion, which bought Kewaunee in 2005 for $220 million, will 'record a $281 million charge in (2013’s) third quarter related to the closing and decommissioning.' But that’s just the earnest money. Literally endless expenditures will be required to keep Kewaunee’s radioactive wastes contained, monitored and out of drinking water for the length of time the federal appeals courts have declared is the required minimum — 300,000 years."
The Kewaunee nuclear reactor, near Green Bay, will be shut down in mid-2013, owner Dominion Resources announced.
Dominion had been trying to sell the reactor for a year and a half, but could not find a buyer.
In a statement, the company said the decision to mothball the nuclear reactor "was based purely on economics."
The Chicago Tribune reports, "Kewaunee is the first nuclear plant to shut its doors due to competition from natural gas. Production has jumped in recent years as new technologies like horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, or 'fracking,' enable energy companies to tap the United States' vast shale reserves."
On Monday, October 1, more than 50 protesters gathered to greet attendees to a Frac Sand conference in Brooklyn Park, MN, a Twin Cities suburb. They included 35 from Winona, right across the Mississippi from Wisconsin, which has had an active frac sand protest movement. Seven protesters were arrested for climbing on top of a charter bus designated to transport conference attendees.
The recently formed Wisconsin Senate Select Committee on Mining held three hearings on current mining law. Much of the focus, as Rebecca Kemble reports for the Progressive, was on timelines for the permitting process.
"Republican legislators pushing AB 426 last session claimed that mining companies needed better timelines and more certainty in the permitting process in order to invest in mining activities in Wisconsin," writes Kemble.
Madison's Capital Times newspaper ran an article on August 8 about UW-Madison taking steps to re-start a series of decompression sickness studies using sheep after new legislation exempted the university from state animal cruelty statutes. The move is being condemned by WNPJ member group Alliance for Animals.
WNPJ member group Soul of the Kickapoo has been fighting the Badger Coulee high-voltage power line proposal, which intends to run a 345 kV transmission line from Lacrosse to Madison, costing ratepayers $340 million. The line is part of $9 billion in planned power lines being pushed by American Transmission Company, a for-profit utility company, to open up markets in the east for electricity from dirty coal-fired power plants in the Dakotas. The total cost is enough to buy over a million 4kV solar systems for Wisconsin homes to make them mostly energy self-sufficient.
Mining activist and UW-LaCrosse emeritus professor Al Gedicks warns in the pages of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that weakening Wisconsin's mining regulations has been moved to the top of Governor Walker's agenda. At the same time, a report just released by the National Wildlife Federation points to Wisconsin's mining laws as a model for other states to follow. Under Wisconsin's decades-old "Prove it First" law, potential miners cannot receive a state permit until they have provided an example of a metallic sulfide mine in the United States or Canada that has not polluted surface or groundwaters during or after mining. Gedicks writes: "So far, the industry has not been able to find a single example where they have mined without polluting water." Read more... (Photo: Sulfide mining runoff in Sudbury, Ontario.)