State Views: Wisconsin should repeal its mining laws

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Barbara With
Wednesday, January 22, 2014

This month, 300,000 West Virginians lost their water. Hundreds of people went to emergency rooms, which also did not have water. A state of emergency was declared. All because of “clean” coal.

The toxin responsible was methylcyclohexanol, used for washing coal. West Virginia mining companies assured residents that their operations are safe. The truth is just the opposite.

“It’s caused us more problems than you could ever imagine,” said Danny Jones, mayor of Charleston. “It’s a prison from which we would like to be released.”

West Virginia’s Chris Cline, King Coal himself, owns Gogebic Taconite, the mining company that wrote Wisconsin’s new mining law and wants to set up shop in northern Wisconsin. GTac has stated over and over that the new law protects the environment. Like the lies about coal mining, the lies about iron ore mining in northern Wisconsin have come home to roost.

Recently, an internal Wisconsin DNR report was “leaked” to the press that clearly demonstrates why iron ore mining is bad for our health. Grounded in science, it reveals what we already know: iron mining in the Penokees poses a variety of threats to human health and to the water supply that connects a complex ecosystem, ranging from upland forests to wetland bogs to Lake Superior.

All along, GTac has asked the public to wait for the science. They said, “Trust the DNR.” But when the DNR does the hard work and puts together a well-documented paper regarding the history and geology of mining, GTac didn’t even read it before discrediting it.

Those who changed the laws in Wisconsin broke the public trust. They refuse to protect the Earth for even their own children. Their actions demonstrate that they have no interest in the health and well being of our community. After destroying our land and waters, they will take their profits and disappear, leaving us with awful consequences like those the people of West Virginia now face.

The Wisconsin Wildlife Federation has called for a repeal of the new mining law, joining the growing ranks of citizens who are rejecting a law written by and for the mining company, at the expense of the citizens and natural resources.

Concerned citizens are uniting to protect not only the Bad River watershed and Lake Superior from mining, but all Wisconsin waters. We call for the repeal of Act 1, Wisconsin’s unjust ferrous mining law, and Act 118, the wetlands destruction law.

Ferrous mining should be treated like any other mining, under the “Prove It First” law that has successfully protected us for years. Wisconsin can’t afford the kind of losses being seen in West Virginia. Citizens have the right to clean water. Furthermore, we have the right to be represented by our elected officials, not an out-of-state mining company run by a known polluter.

Barbara With of La Pointe, on Madeline Island, writes for Wisconsin Citizens Media Cooperative and has covered the mining debate since 2011. This article was submitted with input and signatures from more than 200 residents throughout Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan and Illinois. Readers can contact With at barbwith@gmail.com.

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