January 2013 Newsletter
January 9, 2013
Dear WRPC Member,
Wisconsin is now under a well-funded mining industry attack on the grassroots environmental, sportfishing, and tribal movement which mobilized tens of thousands of Wisconsin citizens to successfully oppose Exxon’s destructive Crandon mine at the headwaters of the Wolf River and enact Wisconsin’s landmark Mining Moratorium Law.
Assembly Republican leaders say the first bill they’ll introduce in early January is the Bad River Watershed Destruction Act, also known as Gogebic Taconite’s Strip Mine Legislation (AB 426). See enclosed briefing paper on 2011 Assembly Bill 426 produced by the Sierra Club and WRPC. Additional briefings on the Mining Moratorium and the track record of taconite mining can be found at http://wisconsin.sierraclub.org/mining.asp or at www.wrpc.net
In addition to reintroducing AB 426, legislators have proposed repealing Wisconsin’s Mining Moratorium Law, also known as Wisconsin’s “Prove It First” law. This rollback of environmental protection will not pass without a fight.
Saturday, January 26, 2013 – Statewide Rally and March to Protect the Water
Madison Action for Mining Alternatives (MAMA) has called for a Statewide Rally and March to Protect the Water at the State Capitol on Saturday, January 26 at 12 Noon, State Street Steps. We have a permit secured for the rally. There will be a sidewalk march afterwards to Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce.
The demands of the protest are:
- Protect Wisconsin’s “Prove It First” Law.
- Promote healthy, sustainable jobs for Wisconsinites.
- Let citizens be heard before permits are granted.
- Respect Treaty Rights.
- Maintain environmental protections.
The protest will be followed by a fundraiser from 3:00 pm to midnight at the Wil-Mar Neighborhood Center at 953 Jenifer Street in Madison. There will be food and live music.
Sign and pass along the petition below, created by MAMA:
Rio Tinto Loses Bid for its County Road 595 Project in Marquette County, Michigan
On January 3 the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality announced it will not issue a permit for the construction of the proposed Marquette County Road 595. This project`was formerly known as the Woodland Road when it was first proposed by Kennecott. The road was to be built so Kennecott could transport ore from the Yellow Dog Plains to the Humboldt Mill. When the federal government became involved because of negative wetland impacts, Kennecott withdrew their permit application and began working with the Marquette County Road Commission to get permission for a public road. As the Army Corps of Engineers noted, the primary beneficiary would be Kennecott.
Jessica Koski, a mining technical assistant with the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community, commented on the road decision:
“This is very gratifying news for a large tract of our treaty territory and our wetlands, streams, wildlife, traditional plants and cultural resources, and in light of KBIC’s concerns for foreseeable additional impacts and development that this proposed road would likely facilitate . . .
The immediate refocus on existing routes demonstrates the continued avoidance of federal permitting authority and more comprehensive environmental review processes that should be associated with the Eagle sulfide mine and Humboldt Mill development project. Rio Tinto was originally planning to put the ore on a rail head to Ontario. As plans changed to process and leave the sulfide waste in our homelands for eternity at Humboldt, it seems the road was an afterthought or expected entitlement.”
Flambeau Mining Company Appeals Judge Crabb’s Decision in Clean Water Act Case
Kennecott/Rio Tinto’s Flambeau Mining Company (FMC) has appealed its conviction for violating the Clean Water Act at its partially-reclaimed Flambeau mine to the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago. Their opening brief is scheduled for January 7, 2013. WRPC’s response/opening brief is scheduled for February 6. Responses to briefs will continue through March 2013.
The mining industry has claimed that the Flambeau mine in Ladysmith is proof of a metallic sulfide mine that has not caused serious water pollution problems. The facts prove otherwise. U.S. District Court Judge Barbara Crabb ruled in July 2012 that FMC had indeed violated the Clean Water Act on numerous counts by virtue of discharging toxic pollutants into a tributary of the Flambeau River on a repeated basis over the years.
Our attorneys will continue to argue the case on appeal. While the expenses of the appeal are not as great as the original case, we still need to cover the court costs of the appeal process. We ask that you continue to support us in this landmark mining pollution case by making a generous donation to our legal defense fund in the enclosed return envelope.
Now, more than ever, we need to point out that 15 years after the passage of Wisconsin’s Mining Moratorium Law, the industry still cannot provide a single example of a successfully operated and closed mine in a metallic sulfide orebody.
Stay tuned, Al Gedicks, Executive Secretary, WRPC