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:

Capital Times: Mining opponents pack hearing

Opponents of a proposed strip mine to be located in northern Wisconsin's Penokee hills turned out to a hearing before the legislature's Joint Finance committee today. The last-minute hearing was arranged 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. Mining opponents brought jars of water to the hearing, each labeled "It's about the water," to call attention to the threat posed by the mine to streams and wetlands near the site. The Senate may vote on a mining bill as early as next week. Take Action: Please contact your Senator to urge them to vote against the bill. (Photo: Anti-mining ralling in Madison, January 25th.)


Click here for updates on the mining bill.

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.

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