The Open-Pit Mining Bill gives an out of state company the right to blow the top off 22 miles of the Penokee Range in Northern Wisconsin. Republicans hold an 18-15 edge in the chamber, making the bill's passage all but inevitable. It would next go to the Republican-controlled Assembly, where a vote is scheduled for next week. From there it would move to GOP Gov. Scott Walker who has touted the bill as a great thing for the State. The bill allows the out of state Gogebic Taconite mining company, that helped draft the bill, to be responsible for most of the environmental management.
The mine not about cutting a slit in the land and pulling out resources. This bill allows total destruction of a pristine wilderness that houses and feeds our cherished waters, wetlands, rice fields, forests, and the wilderness that draws a significant portion of the State’s 16 billion in tourism dollars. The proposed mining is so terrible the mining companies, when challenged, could not name one example of a metallic sulfate mine that operated safely—anywhere or anytime.
"It's a sad day," said Annie Maday, a Bad River tribal council member. "Scary is not the word for it. It's devastating. They're going to destroy my home."
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The bill also cuts Gogebic Taconite a sweet deal. $171-million a year in fees for environmental protection programs under the G-O-P’s mining incentive bill will be dismissed. Under current law, mining companies must pay just over seven-dollars for each ton of waste rock they produce – and the Legislative Fiscal Bureau says the G-O-P package would slash that fee to less than three-cents a ton.
This kind of mine has always –every time—caused significant environmental damage because it eradicates the landscape and poisons the air and water that it influences; that’s why the current environmental laws were passed in 1998. Mining has not become safer. An out of state mining company will make a lot of money. There will be some short-term jobs. The beautiful Penokee Range will never be the same, nor will the surrounding land, air, water, nor will the people who love this place.