March 7, 2013 by Barbara With
As the “contentious” mining bill AB1 is being debated in the Assembly, more people are mobilizing to protect the waters of the state from the environmental destruction that would be allowed to take place because of this legislation.
Rep. Janet Bewley (D-Ashland) whose district is firmly opposed to the bill, recited her experiences with Matt Fifield, representative from the mining company, who promised early on that they would not seek changes to the State’s environmental law.
She then quoted the bill’s sponsor Sen. Tom Tiffany (R-Hazelhurst) who admitted last week after SB1 passed the Senate that the bill actually allows the mining company to pollute the water without any consequence. In an article in CapTimes.com, Tiffany was quoted as saying that the bill was written in such a way as to protect the company and legislators from legal action when the pollution takes place.
Rep. Katrina Shankland (D-Stevens Point) gave a scorching opening freshman speech, reading the language directly from the bill that states that the DNR will not have regulatory powers. She also reminded the body that the bill will allow the genocide of the Anishinaabeg people.
Opponents of the bill have long known it will give away the control of the resources of the area to an out-of-state mining company with a bad environmental track record and no experience in iron ore mining. Chris Cline, owner of the Cline Group, who owns GTAC, would be allowed to fill in wetlands, lakes and streams without fear of prosecution of violation of the Public Trust Doctrine and Federal Treaty Rights.
Supporters of the bill claim the DNR will protect the resources from harm, however, in the video below of the Joint Finance Committee hearing, Rep. Cory Mason (D-Racine) tries to restore the DNR’s authority to issue stop orders in the event that mining operations threaten public health, safety or the environment. That authority exists under current law but is being removed. This means the DNR is only a permitting agency, not a regulatory agency.
See all the videos at No Penokee Mine at youtube.
To join others who are standing up to protect the water, visit United In Defense of the Water for resources and actions you can take to help preserve the resources of Wisconsin.