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Protect Wisconsin's Mining Safeguards

If you or your organization wishes to sign-on to this letter, please contact Elizabeth Ward at elizabeth.ward@sierraclub.org or (608) 256-0565. Click here for the press release.

January 16, 2013
Dear Wisconsin Legislator,
 
We are deeply concerned about the reintroduction of the Iron Mining bill (AB1/SB1, The Bad River Destruction Act) 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.
 
In addition to reintroducing AB 426, legislators have proposed repealing Wisconsin’s Mining Moratorium Law.  This “Prove It First” 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 (
Great Lakes Mining Report) called Wisconsin’s Mining Moratorium an exemplary law.

We invite you to review new briefing papers on the Iron Strip Mine Bill, Wisconsin’s Mining Moratorium Law and the Environmental Track Record of Taconite Mining in Minnesota and Michigan were released.  The briefing papers are linked below.

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.

Sincerely,

 

Add-ons Since January 16 Delivery:

Alliance for the Great lakes

Lyman Welch,Water Quality Program Director

Chicago, IL

Citizens for Environmental Stewardship, Inc.

Vaughn Nagahashi, Chair

Eau Claire, WI

Forward Institute

Scott Wittkopf, Chair

Madison, WI

Keepers of the Water

Cecelia R. LaPointe, Director

Manistee, MI

League of Women Voters of WI Education Network

Andrea Kaminski, Executive Director

Madison, WI

Save the Wild U.P.

Margaret Comfort, President

Marquette, MI

Sustain Jefferson

Bill Reichertz, Democracy Committee

Jefferson County

Town and Country Resource Conservation and Development

Lisa Conley, Director

Jefferson, WI


Winnebago Audubon Society

Jane Wissink, President

Oshkosh, WI

Wisconsin Environment

Megan Severson, State Advocate

Madison, WI

 

 

Sign-ons as of January 16, 2013:

Alaska’s Big Village Network
Carl Wassilie, Yupik Biologist
Anchorage, AK

Aldo Leopold Audubon Society
Kent Hall, PhD, Conservation Chair
Stevens Point, WI

Anishinaabe Niijii/Protect The Earth
Sandy Lyon, Director
Springbrook, WI
 
Ashland-Bayfield Counties- League of Women Voters
Dorothy Lagerroos, President
Grand View, WI

Center for Biological Diversity
Marc Fink, Public Lands Forest Director
Duluth, MN

Citizens For Responsible Land Use
Carole Crisler, President
Rice Lake, WI

Citizens For Safe Water Around Badger (CSWAB)
Laura Olah, Executive Director
Merrimac, WI

Clean Water Action Network of Northeast Wisconsin
Dean Hoegger, President
Green Bay, WI

Clean Wisconsin
Mark Redsten, Executive Director
Madison, WI

Colombia Support Network

Cecilia Zarate-Laun, Program Director
Madison, WI

Concerned Citizens of Big Bay
Gene Champagne, President
Big Bay, MI

Crawford Stewardship Project
Edie Ehlert, Co-Coordinator
Gays Mills, WI

Deer Tail Press, LLC
Laura Gauger, President
Duluth, MN

De Forest Area Progressives
Marcia Riquelme, Chair
Windsor, WI

Door County Environmental Council
Jerry Viste, Executive Director
Fish Creek, WI

DownRiver Alliance
Guy Wolf, Co-Chair
Stoddard, WI

Echo Valley Hope
Dena Eakles, President
Ontario, WI

Family Farm Defenders
John E. Peck, Executive Director
Madison, WI

Freshwater Future
Jill Ryan, Executive Director
Duluth, MN

Friends of Chilama
Libby Pappalardo, Coordinator
Crystal Lake, IL

Friends of the Cloquet Valley State Forest
Kristin Larsen, Executive Director
Duluth, MN

Friends of the Hunt Hill Audubon Sanctuary
Storme Nelson, Executive Director
Sarona, WI

Friends of the Land of Keweenaw
Linda Rulison, President
Houghton, Michigan

Front 40
Ron Henriksen
Stephenson, MI

Great Northern Solar
Chris LaForge, Owner
Port Wing, WI

Green Delaware
Alan Muller, Executive Director
Port Penn, DE

Green-Rock Audubon Chapter
Thomas F. O’Brien, Chair
Evansville, WI

Izaak Walton League of America - Wisconsin Division
George Guyant, President
Amherst Junction, WI

Headwaters Group of Northern Thunder
Tom Wilson, Mining Sub-Committee Chair
Eau Claire, WI

Jackson County Citizen Voices
Sheila Danielson, Coordinator
Black River Falls, WI

Lutefisk Technologies, Inc. and ElyMinnesota.com
Richard Watkins, President
Ely, MN

Madison Action for Mining Alternatives
Carl Sack, Organizer
Madison, WI

Madison Arcatao Sister City Project
Barb Alvarado, Co-President
Madison, WI

Madison Audubon Society
Roger Packard, President
Madison, WI

Medical Professionals Against Sulfide Mining
Allan Olson, D.O. MPASM
Marquette, MI

Midwest Coalition Against Lethal Mining

Steve Watrous

Milwaukee, WI

Midwest Environmental Advocates
Kimberlee Wright, Executive Director
Madison, WI

Mining Impact Coalition of Wisconsin
Frank Koehn, President
Ashland, WI

Mining Watch
Jamie Kneen, co-manager
Ottawa, Ontario

National Lawyers Guild - Madison Chapter
Anthony Prince, Chair
Patricia K. Hammel, Vice Chair
Madison, WI

Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC)
Harry Henderson, Midwest Program Director
Chicago, IL

Northeastern Minnesotans for Wilderness
Bradley Sagen, Advocacy Representative
Ely, MN

Northeastern Wisconsin Audubon Society
Marty Gallagher, Secretary
Green Bay, WI

Okanogan Highlands Bottling Company
Water More Precious Than Gold
Michael “Buffalo” Mazzetti, President
Tonasket, WA

One Wisconsin NOW

Scot Ross, Executive Director

Madison, WI


Partizans
Richard Solly, Coordinator
London, United Kingdom

People Empowered Protect the Land (PEPL) of Rosendale
Elaine Swanson
Pickett, WI

Penokee Hills Education Project
Pete Rasmussen, Vice President
Marengo, WI

Physicians for Social Responsibility Wisconsin
Pam Kleiss, Executive Director
Madison, WI

Protect our Manoomin
Robert DesJarlait, Director
Nowthen, MN

River Alliance of Wisconsin
Denny Caneff, Executive Director
Madison, WI

Save Lake Superior Association
LeRoger Lind, President
Two Harbors, MN

Save Our Sky Blue Waters
Elanne Palcich, Director
Duluth, MN

Sierra Club -  Chippewa Valley Group
Margo Miller & Caryn Treiber, Co-Chairs
Eau Claire, WI

Sierra Club- Central Upper Peninsula Group
John Rebers, Chair
Marquette, MI

Sierra Club- Coulee Region Group
Marilyn Pedretti, Chair
La Crosse, WI

Sierra Club - Four Lakes Group
Dave Blouin, Chair
Madison, WI

Sierra Club-Fox Valley Group
Al Lawrence, Chair
Appleton, WI

Sierra Club-Great Waters Group
Janet Anderson, Chair
Milwaukee, WI

Sierra Club - John Muir Chapter (Wisconsin)
Shahla Werner, PhD., Chapter Director
Madison, WI

Sierra Club - Michigan Chapter
Jean Gramlich, Chapter Chair
Anne Woiwode, Chapter Director
Lansing, MI

Sierra Club-North Star (Minnesota) Chapter
Lori Andresen, Mining Chair
Mathews Hollinshead, Conservation Chair
Minneapolis, MN

Sierra Club-Southeast Gateway Group
Melissa Warner, Chair
Racine, WI

Sierra Student Coalition - UW Madison
Alexa Edinburgh, President
Madison, WI

Sustainable Dunn
Linda Walsh, President
Menomonie, WI

Trout Unlimited-Wisconsin State Council
Kim McCarthy, Chair
Green Bay, WI

Turtle Island Distribution Enterprises, Inc.
Bernard J. Nelson, Executive Director
Stoughton, WI

Upper Peninsula Environmental Coalition (UPEC)
William Malmsten, President
Houghton, MI

U.S. El Salvador Sister Cities
Tanya Cole, U.S. Coordinator
Ojai, CA

WaterLegacy
Diadra Decker, Board President
Duluth, MN

Wisconsin Association of Lakes
Karen von Huene, Executive Director
Madison, WI

Wisconsin Audubon Council
Sarah Stoll, President
Sheboygan, WI

Wisconsin Environmental Health Network,
Ann Behrmann, MD, Steering Committee Member
Madison, WI

Wisconsin Friends Action Network (Quakers)
Vicki Berenson, Coordinator
Madison, WI

Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters
Kerry Schumann, Executive Director
Madison, WI

Wisconsin Network for Peace and Justice
Diane Farsetta, Executive Director
Madison, WI

Wisconsin Resources Protection Council
Al Gedicks, Executive Secretary
Tomahawk, WI

Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve
Emily Whittaker, Executive Director
Big Bay, MI

 

Reference Materials:

The Iron Strip Mining Bill briefing includes this background information:

  • Gogebic Taconite wrote the original bill.
  • The geological premise of the bill is false.
  • Current mining law already regulates iron mining and the Flambeau mine was successfully permitted under the same laws.
  • Public polling and overwhelming majorities demonstrated strong opposition to the bill in the last session.
  • The bill includes broad and sweeping reductions in environmental protections for iron mining by exemptions from or limits on the application of current environmental laws.
  • The proposal would become the largest open pit taconite mine on the planet and threatens the Bad River Watershed and Lake Superior with permanent damage and huge quantities of wastes requiring safe management forever.


The Environmental Track Record of Taconite Mining briefing includes this background information:

  • All ten current taconite mines and producers in MN and MI are recent polluters.  Together they represent nearly all taconite production in the US.
  • The ten mines and production facilities have amassed $2.1 million in fines for pollution in the last 10 years alone.
  • A wide variety of pollution from taconite mining spreads far beyond the boundaries of each project including mercury deposition across the region including Wisconsin and water pollution causing fish consumption advisories for many miles of impacts to rivers and streams.
  • Historic iron mining in sulfide bearing minerals – just as in the Penokee Range iron ore that is the subject of this bill – has caused chronic pollution of ground and surface waters.


The Mining Moratorium (“Prove It First”) briefing includes this background information:

  • Possible metallic mines in Wisconsin are in sulfide minerals that can cause extensive damage from Acid Mine Drainage.
  • The history including the votes of current legislators and elected officials who voted for the Moratorium in 1997.  The list includes Governor Walker.
  • The Flambeau mine violated the Clean Water Act and cannot be an example for the Moratorium.
  • To this day, the mining industry has yet to offer a single example of a successfully operated and closed mine in metallic sulfide minerals.