The Walker administration has introduced two bills that rewrite Wisconsin’s mining law, and if implemented, will destroy the northern underground aquifer and Lake Superior.
The first bill, AB3520/1 was written by five Republicans and several men from Gtac, or Gogebic Taconite Mining Company, according to a Dec. 19, 2011 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article. AB3520/1 and AB426 will allow a mine four miles long, two miles wide and half a mile deep to use 31 million gallons of water per day, from as wide an area as the company deems necessary. Landowners have no recourse to the law. The mine’s needs take precedence. This water will be contaminated with sulfite, producing sulfuric acid, thus contaminating the total underground aquifer and Lake Superior, containing 10 percent of the world’s fresh water, as it leaches downhill from the Penokee Hills into the Bad River.
There has never been a taconite mine that has not destroyed the surrounding water supply. It is the second greatest producer of mercury, which will pollute the air and water. Taconite is ground into fine powder, and the Walker bills will remove environmental controls to prevent air pollution from this fine powder. In fact, all environmental controls are removed.
There will be few jobs created, as most of this work is done by computer, such as driverless trucks. Miners who are out of work in other parts of the country and Canada must be offered any jobs first, according to union law. The DNR will be forced to make final decisions on permitting in only 360 days.
These two bills change the floodplain definitions to allow this mine to dump waste into a floodplain. This action will make it nearly impossible for Wisconsin citizens to obtain flood insurance, as insurance companies will be reluctant to accept looser, permissive floodplain conditions.
Gogebic Mining is owned by Cline Resources and Development, owned by Chris Cline, a billionaire friend of Walker’s residing in Florida. If this permit is granted to Gogebic, it can then sell the permit to a country like China, reputed to have an interest in this mine, due to its lack of regulations. The League of Women Voters of Ashland stated, “This is a bad bill…”
There has never been a taconite mine that has not destroyed the aquifer under it. In a few years, we will depend on Lake Superior for basic water needs. This mine would destroy this pristine lake forever. Regardless of one’s political view, this mine is a very bad idea.
Gerald Rau, Rhinelander