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Lied to Constituents

Posted: Wed Mar 06, 2013 4:45 pm
by Tomahawk Leader
This and the subsequent reply are among Letters to the Editor in the March 5, 2013, Tomahawk Leader.

I e-mailed Sen. Tom Tiffany on 2/20/13 about my concerns over the mining bill. A week later, (the day the Senate passed the bill 17-16) I received a reply from Mr. Tiffany which stated, “My two goals in advancing this legislation are to ensure that Wisconsin’s high environmental standards are maintained and that an applicant has certainty.”
The next day, Tiffany did an interview with the Capital Times in Madison. He stated, “There are going to be some impacts to the environment above the iron ore body. If the law ends up in court, the judge needs to know it was the legislature’s intent to allow adverse (environmental) impacts. That way a judge can’t find fault if the environment is impacted.”
In other words, Tiffany and the mining company, Gogebic Taconite, wrote the legislation specifically to make lawsuits by the citizens of Wisconsin and other groups less likely to succeed – and to allow the mining company to damage the environment with impunity for itself and the state. (A link to the complete article was provided and is available on the Tomahawk Leader Message Board at (Read the complete article at ... z2MK2cdliQ)
Tom Tiffany has lied to his constituents and to the rest of Wisconsin. If passed by the Assembly and signed into law, this legislation will affect the entire state, anywhere that mining is a possibility – including Oneida County.

Any potential benefits of a mine pale in comparison to the environmental damage that will occur – and Tom Tiffany knows that. His representation of the Northwoods is a travesty.

Cheryl Andrist

Re: Lied to Constituents

Posted: Wed Mar 06, 2013 4:47 pm
by Tomahawk Leader
How can Senator Tiffany say that our environment will be protected by the new mining law, when the law he is talking about and is the sponsor of, states that you can fill in wetlands, streams, and small lakes with mining waste? He should know that sulfide waste + oxygen + water = acid mine run off and drainage. This will be the result of this proposed mine, it's happened 100% of the time through out history. In fact there are mines from the Roman Empire prior to 467 A.D. that are still generating acid drainage. According to the Safe Drinking Water Foundation, " The acid will leach from the rock as long as its source rock is exposed to air and water and until the sulfides are leached out-a process that could last hundreds, if not thousands of years. Acid is carried off by rainwater or surface drainage and deposited into nearby streams, rivers, lakes, and groundwater. Acid Mine Drainage severely degrades water quality, and can kill aquatic life and make water virtually unusable."

Wisconsin needs jobs=a safe mine. This premise is false no matter which state name you insert. Several large scale mines developed in the last half of the twentieth century have declared bankruptcy and left Taxpayers with the responsibility of treating acid waters in perpetuity. Examples include the Zortman Landusky Mine in Montana, the Summitville Mine in Colorado, and the Brohm Mine in South Dakota. We can see the hundreds of millions of dollars the states have paid to try and clean up the devastation that mining companies have left. Long after the companies are bankrupt and gone Taxpayers are left to pay for the clean up. The second part is false because it has never been done in the history of the world. Whenever there has been a mine that generated sulfide waste, with water present, there has been acid mine drainage and heavy metal pollution of the water.

So now our elected assembly men and senators and governor want us to believe that they had our and our children's best interest at heart when they wrote this new mining law.They make a big deal that the new mining law pertains only to iron mining. Don't they know its not what you take out that's dangerous? It's what's left behind that all future Wisconsinites will have to deal with. They want us to believe Wisconsin will be the first place in the history of the world to have a none polluting sulfide containing waste pile. One thing is for certain, the citizens of Wisconsin will have a mountain of waste of a scale that boggles the mind, one of the biggest in the whole world,and we're supposed to believe Mr.Tiffany and a mining company that this Mt. Everest of waste will be safe for all future generations? My "bad" I guess Mr.Tiffany was lying about the environmentally safe mine. Our Senator Tiffany now says "If the law is challenged and ends up in court, the Judge needs to know it was the Legislature's intent to allow adverse {environmental} impacts. That way a Judge can't find fault if the environment is impacted."

The Taxpayers of Wisconsin will "ante- up" our clean waters and pristine environment for what gain? We give up real assets, our lakes, streams, wetlands, and ground water. In exchange for what? Some promised temporary jobs, and possible mining profits? For this we risk Wisconsin's clean waters? There's not a book maker in the world that would take that bet. Wisconsin's Taxpayers and all their children are down stream from this mining law. If any mine comes to pass and is operated like this new law says is legal, the people of Wisconsin will be left holding the biggest pile of FOOLS GOLD in the world long after the last ounce of iron is gone.

Mark Pflieger

Re: Lied to Constituents

Posted: Thu Mar 07, 2013 6:36 pm
by Tomahawk Leader
21st Century Mining in Wisconsin
By Senator Tom Tiffany and Representative Scott Suder

When the new legislative session began, we made it clear that one of our top priorities would be passing a mining bill that could lead to the creation of thousands of well-paying, family supporting jobs. We introduced Senate Bill 1 (SB 1) and Assembly Bill 1 to designate a separate class of mining for taconite, a form of iron ore. As authors, our goal was to ensure that this legislation maintain Wisconsin’s high environmental standards and provide certainty for an applicant. Under current law, applicants are faced with a cumbersome process that includes no set time frame for an up or down decision, which is a deterrent to investing in Wisconsin and creating mining jobs.

Since last session, the topic of mining has been widely debated and vetted in both the Legislature and by the media. Over the past two sessions, there have been six public and six informational hearings held by both Republican and Democrat-led committee chairs throughout the state. Within those hearings, public testimony exceeded 45 hours and the total amount of testimony exceeded 70 hours.

During the joint public hearing in January, my colleagues and I heard from a number of people all across the state on both sides of this issue. However, some of the most powerful testimony came from northern residents, including local high school students. These students reminded committee members that when they graduate from high school many of them will have no choice, but to leave the community they have called home their entire lives in order to find employment. We heard from Rhonda Olkonen, an educator from Hurley whose husband has been working in an oil field in North Dakota and is only able to come home every four to six weeks. Rhonda’s husband would be qualified to work at a mining site such as the one proposed, but due to the lack of jobs in northern Wisconsin, has had to look for work out west. Rhonda and her family, like so many others in this part of the state, would welcome the jobs a mine could create and the opportunity to put residents back to work.

This 21st Century Mining legislation does not reduce air quality standards, surface water standards or safe drinking water standards. Wisconsin’s strict standards for groundwater quality are expressly applied in this legislation. In addition, this bill does not allow for an increase in limits on emissions or pollutants, and the Public Trust Doctrine still applies. Also, it should be noted that Wisconsin cannot change federal standards. At the end of the day, the Department of Natural Resources and the Army Corps of Engineers, along with the Environmental Protection Agency will be conducting a thorough review of permit applications, environmental impact reports, reclamation reports, among other requirements. These regulators will have to approve permits that meet established standards.
We are proud of the legislation that we introduced with Representative Honadel, Representative Williams, and a number of other legislative colleagues. We took the time to listen to opponents of this legislation as well as members on both sides of the aisle. As a result, we introduced and adopted a number of concepts from Senator Cullen and his committee hearings. We also introduced amendments that strengthened the already strong environmental protections included in the bill. Some of the amendments, among others, include requiring additional testing during the waste characterization process, ensuring that the Army Corps of Engineers is thoroughly involved throughout the process, prohibiting potential impacts to lake beds and trout streams, and specifying that the Investment and Local Impact Fund, which makes payments to local governments in the area affected by the mine, give preference to private sector economic development projects when dispersing the funds.

Last week, the State Senate took up Senate Bill 1 for debate and passed the bill on a 17-16 vote. This Thursday, the State Assembly will take up this legislation. Upon passage, the bill will move to Governor Walker’s desk for signature.

Mining has been a part of Wisconsin’s rich history and heritage. We have a miner on our state flag, and that miner has been laid off for far too long. The mining legislation that we have passed will ensure that we can use our abundant natural resources in an environmentally-responsible manner to bring prosperity back to Wisconsin and put that miner back to work.