Greasing the Skids for Iron Mines

Is the Wisconsin State legislature streamlining the permitting process for iron mines or simply greasing the skids? According to the John Muir Chapter of the Sierra Club in Wisconsin and the Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters, here is what the proposed bills in the Assembly and Senate would do:

• Violate the Public Trust Doctrine in Article IX of the Wisconsin State Constitution which states the DNR holds public waters in trust for all citizens;

• Disenfranchise the citizens of their legal right to question assertions made by companies proposing ferrous mines in Wisconsin;

• Exempt ferrous mining companies from pollution standards established in law for other industries in Wisconsin;

• Violate the rights of riparian landowners to protect natural features of land they own;

• Lead to an increase in arsenic, lead, and mercury pollution in the state and thereby negatively affect the health of our citizens as well as other biotic communities;

• Make the taxpayers responsible for additional costs to reasonably determine the potential environmental impact of mining development and in effect allow mining companies to become the recipients of taxpayer-funded corporate welfare;

• Endanger seventy-one miles of trout stream and river waters within the proposed development which feed into the Bad River and Lake Superior;

• Endanger the Kakogan wetlands – the “Everglades of the North;”

• Endanger rice beds sacred to the Ojibwa;

• Endanger the ground water in Bayfield and Ashland counties.

As a former regional planner in the iron range of Minnesota, I can attest the proposed Gogebic mine in Ashland and Bayfield County will promote a “boom and bust” economy in northern Wisconsin which will leave human and environmental devastation in its wake.

The proposed legislation does not protect the people and environment of Wisconsin nor promote long term, sustainable economic growth. It protects corporate interests from reasonable environmental restraints and the will of the people. It greases the skids.

John M. Rybski

Algoma, Wisconsin