Please Write to Protect Wisconsin’s Mining Laws
Dear Environmental and Conservation Colleagues,
We’re writing to ask you to consider signing your organization on to the sign-on letter (below) that will be sent to Wisconsin legislators in both houses by mid-January. The letter asks the legislators to reject special interest legislation gutting Wisconsin mining law to enable a single destructive iron ore mine. Similar legislation was defeated by a single vote in 2012.
It also asks the legislators to protect Wisconsin’s Mining Moratorium law that simply requires a mining permit applicant to prove that mining in metallic sulfides has been done safely elsewhere in North America. We wish to communicate this message as early as possible to both new and returning lawmakers for their education as legislators have announced this week that mining law “reform” will be the first item on their agenda in the next session. See: http://www.wispolitics.com/index.iml?Article=286762
We request that you let us know by January 11, 2013 if your organization can sign on to this letter. Many of you took strong stands in favor of the Moratorium and against AB 426 (the ferrous or iron mining bill) in the past and we hope you will reaffirm these positions via this letter. Note that signing on to this letter doesn’t limit anything you may wish to do as an organization to fight iron mining legislation or defend the Moratorium; in fact, we hope that you will wish to continue and increase your independent efforts in the new legislative session.
The letter will be delivered to legislators soon after the deadline and will be accompanied by the three companion briefing papers about the Mining Moratorium Law, proposed Iron Mining legislation and the Environmental Track Record of Taconite (Iron) mining. The briefing papers will also be posted to the Sierra Club’s website at:
http://wisconsin.sierraclub.org/mining.asp. Please feel free to post them to your website as a resource for more information or for your own education. You can also learn more by going to Wisconsin Resources Protection Council’s site at: www.wrpc.net.
If your organization can sign on the letter, please reply by January 11, 2013 with your organization’s name, address and the name and title of the contact person for your group. Please contact Elizabeth Ward at the Sierra Club – John Muir Chapter office at 608-256-0565 or firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions or concerns.
Wisconsin Resources Protection Council
Mining Committee Chair,
Sierra Club – John Muir Chapter
Co-founder and Board Member: Mining Impact Coalition of Wisconsin and
the Penokee Hills Education Project
The sign-on letter:
We are deeply concerned about the reintroduction of the Iron Mining bill (2011 AB 426) and the proposed repeal of Wisconsin’s common sense Mining Moratorium Law.
Metallic mining proposals, whether for iron, base or precious metals, are the largest and most complex and destructive land uses considered for the state. The impacts from mining and mine wastes require strict and careful monitoring and management to limit environmental damage and negative economic impacts to local communities and the state.
The Iron Mining bill, which exempts the mining of ferrous (iron ore) minerals from the state’s current metallic mining law is the wrong way to make mining policy and is such a threat to the environmental and human health protections that Wisconsin citizens have a right to expect, that the bill should be rejected.
This bill, written by mining industry representatives for the single largest mine in state history, severely limits the fundamental right of citizens and Wisconsin’s Indian tribes to participate in the mine permitting process. The bill contains widespread exemptions from existing environmental regulations and deprives citizens of the protections to public water rights guaranteed by Wisconsin’s Public Trust Doctrine.
Wisconsin’s Mining Moratorium Law should be retained and enhanced. It was passed by broad majorities in both the Assembly and Senate. The law addressed the problem of acid mine drainage from metallic sulfide ores such as the Crandon and Flambeau deposits. The law requires that the industry provide an example of a metallic sulfide mine that has been operated and closed without polluting the environment. The industry could not document such an example prior to the passage of the bill in 1998 and they have not been able to do so since. Wisconsin citizens should not be the guinea pigs for unproven mining technologies.
Recent claims that the Flambeau mine in Ladysmith is proof of a metallic sulfide mine that has not caused pollution are false. U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb recently ruled that the Flambeau Mining Company violated the Clean Water Act on numerous counts.
A recent survey of metallic sulfide regulation in the Great Lakes region by the National Wildlife Federation (www.Nwf.org/Mining Report) called Wisconsin’s Mining Moratorium an exemplary law.
We call upon you to uphold the rights of citizens and tribes to participate in the mine permitting process and to guard our natural resources and our right to live in a clean, healthy environment.
Your organization listed here.
Wisconsin Resources Protection Council
Al Gedicks, Executive Secretary
Sierra Club – John Muir Chapter (WI)
Shahla Werner, PhD., Chapter Director