With time ticking away before the state legislature is set to take up SB 395; a bill which would lift the Wisconsin moratorium on sulfide mining, environmental groups are pulling out all the stops to kill the bill before it goes to the floor for a vote. According to the bill’s lead author, state Senator Tom Tiffany (R-Hazelhurst), the legislation could be transformative for northern Wisconsin’s economy just as Foxconn will be for the state’s southern half.
To the bill’s opponents, it’s nothing more than attempt to destroy the landscape and poison the water. They say there are no real jobs to be had by Wisconsinites with the return of mining and poo poo recent success stories seen in neighboring states like Minnesota and Michigan by the industry.
So with the bill now out of committee, environmental groups such as the Wisconsin Resources Protection Council, Rivers Alliance of Wisconsin, Sierra Club, and Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters, and others have hit the road to preserve the 20-year old mining moratorium. They’re doing this with a “media tour” and “educational forums” at mostly colleges and universities. Part of the tour is already completed with stops in Eau Claire, Stevens Point, Mequon, and Kenosha.
Here’s what the group say will be their big topics of discussion.
The tour will discuss:
The Mining Give-Away Bill or SB 395 removes provisions which require companies to prove that their mine won’t pollute before they build it, restricts the public’s voice in the permit-granting process for mining, reduces taxpayers’ financial protections from mine pollution, and undermines the state’s wetlands protections.
The Back 40 Mine: a proposed open-pit metallic sulfide mine which the Canadian firm Aquila Resources, Inc. plans to build; the site is in Lake Township, Michigan on the banks of the Menomonie River. This is the tradition and sacred land of the Menomonie people. The planned mine will process zinc, gold, copper, silver, and lead on site and store the waste on site- a mere 150 feet from the river, which means that the waste could easily and quickly leak into the river. This is a threat to local health, drinking water, sturgeon populations, tourism, and agriculture; moreover, the Menomonie River feeds into Lake Michigan, potentially impacting everyone who relies on the lake’s abundance.
The tour continues this week and next with stops in Green Bay, Milwaukee, and Waukesha.
After the tour’s first week of stops, Raj Shukla, the executive director of the Rivers Alliance of Wisconsin got free airtime on “UpFront with Mike Gousha” to plead the case of mining opponent. Shukla was adamant his group and others were opposed to the kind of mining SB 395 would allow in the Badger state.
This naturally brought forth a question from Gousha about whether there was any kind of mining his group would back. On that matter, Shukla was evasive and only would point to “future technologies” as the only avenue where he’d be open to expanding mining in Wisconsin.
Raising the question at what point does the future become now.