Mining decision need not be jobs vs. environment; What's the rush? | WisCommunity

Mining decision need not be jobs vs. environment; What's the rush?

"Streamlining" the process to approve new mines in Wisconsin is high on Gov. Scott Walker's and the for the fall legislative session.

And the Journal Sentinel, the state's biggest newspaper, appears ready to help him get that done, clearing the way for a huge, possibly 80 square mile open pit mine in northern Wisconsin that could operate for a century.

Republicans in the legislature took one run at changing the law and the rules earlier this year, with an industry-drafted bill that would have shortened the approval process from several years to 300 days.

That bill draft was virtually a license to rape the environment and greatly limit citizen input, and was shelved for a rewrite after opposition blossomed among citizens and environmental groups.

Here's how the Journal Sentinel editorialdescribes that bill:

it seemed a little too light on environmental protection and public participation in the process.

A little too light? 

According to a Clean Wisconsin analysis, that bill would

provide special treatment of iron mines within the state of Wisconsin, exempting iron mines from important natural resource, wetlands, and local community protections, as well as important procedural provisions that currently protect citizen’s interest in the exploration, mining, and reclamation processes.

Walker says he wants bipartisan support for his fall agenda. That would mean compromise -- something he's been totally unwillling to do so far, and something Democrats are all too quick to engage in.

State Sen. Bob Jauch, a Dem who represents the area where the mine is proposed, could play a key role. It's an economically depressed area that needs jobs, but let's hope Jauch can be strong when he needs to be and insist on high qualilty environmental protection standards and plenty of opportunity for citizen participation in any approval process.

It doesn't have to be a choice between jobs and the environment.

As the late Gaylord Nelson used to say, "The economy is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the environment, not the other way around."

There is no reason to rush to judgment on a mine that could operate for a century, and scar northern Wisconsin for many more. 


August 16, 2011 - 8:19am