Environment/Energy

Mine Bill Update

Photo by Tom Buchkoe

Following on the State Assembly's vote to pass a mining bill that would fast-track a strip-mining project in northern Wisconsin's Penokee hills by limiting public input and environmental oversight, Senate Republicans have scheduled a hearing on a Senate version of the mining bill for Friday. Feb. 17th in Platteville, nearly 300 miles from the proposed mine site, continuing a pattern of choosing hearing locations that make it difficult for mining opponents who live near the mine to attend and testify. The first hearing held by Assembly Republicans was in West Allis, more than 300 miles from the mine site. (Photo: Iron ore strip mine in northern Minnesota)

1) Please join those who will be speaking at the Platteville hearing against the mine (details below)

2) Please contact your Senator to urge them to oppose the mining bill currently being drafted (more info on the legislation below)

3) Join Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters at a special lobby day on the mining bills on Thursday, February 16th, from 12-5:00pm, Click here for details and to RSVP

Mining bill threatens flood coverage

A new mining bill passed by the state Assembly that weakens environmental regulations and limits public input also threatens Federal flood insurance for thousands of Wisconsin property owners, according to the chief of the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Floodplain Management Branch. Writing in the Capital Times, Madison representative Brett Hulsey says he has been told by FEMA that the mining bill, which  would exempt strip mines from state floodplain rules, would put Wisconsin out of compliance with federal law. Hulsey writes, "These rules are in place to protect our flood-vulnerable homes and businesses, and if Wisconsin doesn’t meet them, the federal government can’t provide any flood insurance and can give only limited flood disaster relief to anyone in our state." 18,000 federal flood insurance properties representing more than $3 billion in property (see map at left) could be placed at risk by the mining bill. Opponents of the bill hope to stop it in the Senate.

Fox News: Red Cliff tribe member arrested, "Are we going to eat polluted fish?"

Fox News 21, a Fox affiliate in northern Wisconsin, features an interview with Lincoln “Sam” Morris of the Red Cliff Band, who was arrested last week for drumming on a sacred drum during a protest against a proposed mine in the Penokee hills. 

"Are we going to eat a polluted fish? Are our deer going to be polluted? Our trees are going to be cut down. All these other animals, all the ones down under mother earth,” Morris said. Attorney Glenn Stoddard, who represents the tribe, says, "The proposed mine in the Penokee Hills is at the head of the watershed. It would essentially send all the pollutants downstream right into the reservation.” Read more...

The Man Behind the Mine

Our friends at the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign have been looking into the Cline Group, Florida billionaire Chris Cline's coal mining company that owns Gogebic Taconite and wants to put an open-pit iron mine in northern Wisconsin. Tens of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions to Scott Walker, Mark Honadel, and other public officials are only part of the story.

Host a Penokee Photo Show!

The WNPJ office now has four beautiful large-format photographs by Joel Austin and a large map of the Penokees, where G-Tac has proposed a huge open-pit iron mine, that are looking for display space. Help us show the public what's special about the pristine Penokee Hills and spread the word about how devastating mining would be to this beautiful area. Contact carl@wnpj.org for more information.

Mining hearing draws overflow crowd

More than 600 people, including many members of the Bad River and Red Cliff tribes, turned out for the first public hearing in northern Wisconsin on a mining bill that would fast-track mining projects by limiting public input and environmental oversight. The decision to schedule the hearing by the Assembly Committee on Jobs, the Economy, and Small Business represented a victory for mining opponents who had criticized the committee's initial plan to only hold one public hearing near Milwaukee, about 300 miles away from the proposed mine. At the hearing, tribal leaders and members spoke strongly against the mine. "Environmentally, this bill is a disaster," said Tom Maulson, president of the Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Indians, said about the bill, "It is page after page of deregulation, giving a `boom and bust industry' free rein to rape the environment that we all depend on." Read more...

Mine bill hearing in Hurley January 11

In a victory after much public pressure, the Assembly Committee on Jobs, the Economy, and Small Business announced it will hold an official hearing up north on AB 426, the proposed mining bill written for Gogebic Taconite that would weaken environmental protections, eliminate contested case hearings, reduce local input, and establish unreasonable timelines for iron mining permits.

The hearing's on January 11, 10 AM at the Hurley Inn. The Committee, which introduced the bill, held the first hearing on it December 14 in Milwaukee. For more information on the bill, see the League of Conservation Voters website or read the Legislative Council bill summary.

A public hearing previously scheduled in Ashland by state Rep. Janet Bewley and Sen. Bob Jauch has been cancelled.

Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel: "No to a bad mining bill"

An editorial in this week's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel argues against mining legislation recently introduced in the Wisconsin State Assembly, saying "the proposed legislation simply goes too far in weakening protections and in lessening the opportunities for citizen input." The Journal-Sentinel's editorial board took the unusual step of printing a second editorial against the mining bill to rebut charges by Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce that their original editorial, printed on Sunday, was "hyperbole." The Journal-Sentinel editorial board responds: "We think WMC is engaging in its own form of hyperbole." Read and comment here...

Hundreds pack hearing on mining bill

A bill to weaken environmental protections to in order to rush through a mining project in northern Wisconsin drew a standing-room-only crowd in West Allis this week, with commenters registering more than 2-1 against the legislation. Mike Wiggins, Jr., chairman of the Bad River Band of Lake Superior warned that the proposed mine in Wisconsin's Penokee hills "would destroy the Bad River watershed and the band's way of life." Wiggins added: "Unfortunately, this proposed legislation is a cruel hoax. No one should be fooled by the claim that it is about jobs. If anything, iron or taconite mining in the Bad River watershed near Lake Superior will probably destroy more existing local jobs in the tourism, forestry, fishing, and natural resource sectors than it would ever create." Read more...

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