Battle royal shaping up on fast-track mining bill | Wis.Community

Battle royal shaping up on fast-track mining bill

The proposal to short-circuit public participation and opposition to a proposed open pit iron ore mine in northern Wisconsin, by reducing the permitting process from five years or more to a mere 300 days, is shaping up to be a monumental environmental battle. [ Earlier post.]

Locally, the Bad River Watershed Association is concerned about the impact -- and that Gogebic Taconite has apparently misled the group about its intent:

At a town hall meeting in January held at the Northern Great Lakes Visitors Center, representatives from Gogebic Taconite were asked if they would seek legislative change to Wisconsin’s permit or public input process. They said they would not. Last week, Gogebic Taconite/The Cline Group published an ad titled An Open Letter to the People of Ashland and Iron Counties informing us that they are now ―seeking legislative action in Wisconsin. What has changed?

The ad states that the "regulatory framework needs certainty." We agree. For example, local people who drink groundwater from their wells need the certainty that they can continue to count on a reliable supply of safe drinking water. We deserve a permitting process that will ensure rigorous review before a mine goes forward. This is essential for any development that strives to be environmentally responsible.

The Sierra Club announced Friday it will oppose the move:

“A fast track review process is a recipe for disaster. GTAC’s proposed mine is to be a minimum of four miles of open pit mining and would likely be the largest mine ever in Wisconsin (GTAC has leases over a 22-mile stretch of the Penokee Range). Open pit iron ore mining is not a benign and clean industry. You need only look to Minnesota’s iron range to see a moonscape of wastes and open pits causing pollution.” said Dave Blouin, Sierra Club mining committee chair.

 “The mine permitting processes for the Flambeau mine and Crandon proposal demonstrated that the process works. Those mine applications needed years of study and review to determine impacts and design mine facilities that protect air, water, wildlife and public health.”

Other environmental groups, including Clean Wisconsin, will no doubt join the opposition, but Republicans are determined to pass a bill by June 30 -- not coincidentally, two weeks before recall elections that could cost them their State Senate majority.

Get ready for a fight.

Resource: website has lots of good information.


May 8, 2011 - 8:16am