The Republicans have released legislation regarding loosening environmental regulations to allow Florida interests to be able to begin iron mining operations that will directly result in pollution and other concerns in northern Wisconsin.
Gogebic Taconite can start developing a new iron ore mine in Ashland and Iron counties if environmental legislation is rushed through and Walker signs it into law. During the press conference, a question was asked if citizens could sue for any damages and the Republican response was that citizens could indeed do so during the process. Oh wait! Slipped nicely in the legislation is this little message:
Current law authorizes citizen suits against a person alleged to be in violation of the metallic mining laws and against DNR when there is alleged to be a failure of DNR to perform a duty under those laws.
The bill does not provide for citizen suits related to iron mining.
When asked about how this little tidbit was in the legislation, the press conference was suddenly ended by Assembly Leader Jeff Fitzgerald. It was because saying that citizens could sue careless companies for damages was at first acknowledged as still viable… except that they were caught in yet another lie. The Younger Fitzgerald let the cat out of the bag. The Koch Brothers are going to be very upset with the junior-league media relations mistake.
What should Wisconsin citizens expect based on other mining operations that have happened in Minnesota and Michigan?
Sulfuric acid leaches out metals and chemicals from the waste and creates acid mine drainage which:
- Contaminates lakes, rivers, and groundwater
- Harms human health, fish, wildlife, and damages entire ecosystems
Some of the reasons for concern:
- Long-term acid and toxic metal water pollution — for instance, PolyMet’s draft Environmental Impact Statement predicts 2,000 years of contaminated
- water leaching
- Mercury contamination in fish and wildlife
- Expensive clean-up operations often fall to taxpayers
- Mining and associated pollution, noise, and other serious impacts in areas near the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness that are important tourism and recreation areas
Despite mining companies’ claims about the minimal environmental impacts, sulfide mining has caused environmental and financial problems all over the world:
- Drinking water supplies contaminated
- Destruction of fish and wildlife habitat from polluted lakes and rivers
- Pollution often occurs years or even decades after a mine’s closure
- Mining companies often go bankrupt or refuse to pay for clean-up when problems occur, leaving taxpayers with tens of millions of dollars in costs
Destroying tourism jobs for dirty mining that will pollute the area and provide limited jobs and have outside contractors set up is the Walker/Fitzwalkerstan Solution.