DNR, Commerce Dept. compete to see who can be more pro-mining | WisCommunity

DNR, Commerce Dept. compete to see who can be more pro-mining

You'd expect Gov. Scott Walker's secretary of the new, "improved" pro-business Commerce Dept. to be pro-business and a cheerleader for development, even when it comes at the expense of the environment. And Paul Jadin doesn't disappoint, according to BusinessNorth:

Gov. Scott Walker’s administration believes iron ore mining can provide a significant economic boost for northwestern Wisconsin, a key cabinet member said Thursday and Friday at area appearances.


“A quarter of a billion dollars worth of payroll – imagine what that could do for northern Wisconsin,” Department of Commerce Secretary Paul Jadin told The Development Association on Friday in Superior. “The ability to get through some of the environmental issues as quickly as we can, and to encourage your elected officials to get behind that economic engine, will provide a significant economic boost for this area.”

About what you'd expect from a guy whose last job was with the Green Bay Chamber of Commerce, right? But there's another state agency charged with reviewing the plans, considering the environmental impact, and approving the permit. That's the Dept. of Natural Resources. You might not expect to hear the same cheerleading from the DNR, but guess what?

Matt Moroney, deputy secretary of Wisconsin’s Department of Natural Resources, said Wisconsin must have a healthy economy to have a healthy environment. The DNR won’t “drag out its decision” on iron mining along the Gogebic Range, he said.


“We’re going to look at sound science, look at what the law says and make the decision based on objective facts and not on subjective things that may be said in the newspapers or on the radio,” Moroney said.

What would those things be that are in the newspapers or on radio? Maybe what's called public opinion? Whatever it is, don't worry about it.

Even before the introduction of a bill that would drastically shorten the approval process for a new mine, from five years or more to 300 days, the number two guy in the agency who's supposed to review the application is promising a speedy decision.

Moroney, of course, is not one of those professional DNR staffers, those tree-hugging, point-headed intellectuals who are always finding something to complain about.

Moroney's previous job was executive secretary of the Metropolitan Builders Assn. of Greater Milwaukee. His boss, DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp, worked in the family construction business.

So you can imagine how sympathetic or sensitive they might be to environmental concerns. Not.

Moroney's observation that we "must have a healthy economy to have a healthy environment," rings a bell -- because it is the exact opposite of what Gaylord Nelson, former Wisconsin governor and US Senator, used to say -- "The economy is a wholly owned subsidiary of the environment, not the other way around."

That line is often quoted, but Nelson's quote is even more powerful in context:

“The wealth of a nation is in its air, water, soil, forests, minerals, rivers, lakes, oceans, scenic beauty, wildlife habitats and biodiversity. Take this resource base away and all that is left is a wasteland. The economy is a wholly owned subsidiary of the environment. That’s where all the economic activity and all the jobs come from.


We are pursuing a self-destructive course of fueling our economies by drawing down our natural capital – by degrading and depleting our resource base -- and counting it on the income side of the ledger. This, obviously, is not a sustainable situation over the long term. Forging and maintaining a sustainable society is The Challenge for this and all generations to come.”

As the DNR, the agency responsible for protecting those wisconsin resources, appears ready to jump on the pro-mining bandwagon, and rushes to approve a mine that may operate for a century, let's keep that in mind.


May 16, 2011 - 6:56pm