Despite Attempts to Shut Them Out, Citizens from Across the State are in Milwaukee to Oppose Anti-Conservation Bill
Milwaukee – Citizens from across the state are in Milwaukee to oppose the Assembly’s mining bill, LRB 3520/1, which has a public hearing before the Assembly Jobs Committee today. The bill constitutes a handout to a polluting mining company and will have significant natural resource impacts statewide. The first area to be impacted will likely be the Penokee Range of northern Wisconsin, where a mine has already been proposed. Despite requests to have the hearing held closer to the potential impact area, or even Madison, the hearing is being held nearly 350 miles away in West Allis.
Although greatly inconvenienced, citizens were not deterred. “This meeting is inaccessible for most people I know. My family, colleagues, even my community pitched in and changed their schedules so I can be here. I am representing all of their voices today, because this bill is in no way acceptable. This bill takes away our rights to have processes in place to protect our communities from special interests. I will not sit back and watch this. I am grateful for the chance to be here today to tell legislators that this is bad news for Wisconsin,” said Stacy Craig from Mason.
Among other things, LRB 3520/1:
- Forces the state of Wisconsin to issue a mining permit even if they know it will endanger public health, safety or welfare.
- Explicitly states that groundwater contamination by a mining company is acceptable.
- States that the DNR can allow a mining company to take high volumes of water from rivers and lakes and streams that are not located within their property or immediately next to it, even if it will draw down rivers, lakes, and streams.
- Allows mining companies to dump toxic mining waste in sensitive wetlands that protect local communities from flooding and water pollution if the company restores wetlands anywhere else in the state, no matter how far away.
- Does not allow the state of Wisconsin or citizens to challenge the information provided by the mining company in any of their documents. This bill eliminates all accountability, giving the mining company free reign in the quality and accuracy of the information they submit to the state.
Despite the weather, citizens left Ashland this morning at 5:00 am to make the 7.5 hour trek to the hearing. Hanna Sorensen from Ashland was one of more than twenty people on the bus, “I am making this trip to teach my daughter Opal, who is with me, that we stand up for ourselves when our water and natural environment are threatened. I don’t want that future for my daughter. No matter how they try–the roadblocks, the miles, the distance, they will not stop us from participating. We feel too passionately about this.”
“Even though we didn’t think it was possible, this bill is even worse than the mining bill from this past spring that received overwhelming opposition from Wisconsin voters. The fact that this hearing is packed with citizens opposing the bill demonstrates that the electorate is informed, engaged, and unwilling to give up the fight for their personal health and that of Wisconsin’s natural resources,” said Anne Sayers, Program Director of Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters.