Grassroots anti-mining group Waters Edge blasts Dem. Sen. Jauch for pro-mining statement

September 26, 2011
Frank K. Koehn

As WE (the Water's Edge) read the recent press releases from state Sen. Robert Jauch and Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce the similarities on content are striking. Neither press statement addressed the mentions or uses the terms open pit strip-mine which why this committee is being organized.

Jauch and WMC either "hail" or "laud" the creation of the Senate Select Committee on Mining. Their shared support for a bipartisan committee coming from the current political abyss in Madison is nothing to hail or laud. WE think a better term is appalling!

Jauch concludes his press statement characterizing what he considers the real question: "Mining is allowed in Wisconsin. The real question is what principles should the Legislature undertake in devising changes in our law?" he said. This begs the question, what are the principles that you are willing to sacrifice? Clean water standards, air quality standards, and wilderness; or the protection for plant and animal beings that live in the Penokees, the sloughs, rivers, and wetlands?

WMC's spokesperson, Scott Manley, concludes their press release this way: "We can create jobs and protect the environment with iron mining," Manley said. "We need to make sure state law helps promote clean iron mining." Manley and his WMC handlers need to realize that we have laws now that offer protection. The only reason to change these laws is to allow mining companies from around world to enter our homeland and create wasteland. (Editor's note: Manley worked for former state Senator Cathy Stepp, who Gov. Scott Walker recently appointed as Secretary of Wisconsin's Department of Natural Resources.)

Unfortunately both Jauch and WMC apparently have concluded the great laws we now have the books are flawed.

Manely still hangs on to the "jobs for generations" mantra that WMC has been promoting for months. WMC even believes that "it's time to move forward so Wisconsin can lead the nation in job creation and send a message to the world that we are serious about job creation." This is a message that apparently has spurred the interest by the Chinese and Russians in strip mining the Penokee Hills.

Other pearls of wisdom from WMC include the explanation that iron ore mining will leave a smaller environmental footprint that other metallic mining. Manley's description of the taconite mining is woefully inadequate and understated. What else can be expected from the mouthpiece for corporate interests?

Senator Jauch's comments are more realistic in terms of the process. The senator believes this committee is important because it could have an open, comprehensive discussion of what is right and wrong with current law. Before the public can offer meaningful testimony, WE believe it is incumbent on Senator Jauch to be upfront and explain what is wrong with our current laws. If Jauch does not provide us with this explanation, WE are convinced this whole process will be reduced to political party scapegoating and another possible trip to Illinois for the democrats. Using a poorly defined public input process that may well be reduced to three minutes of speaking time is not acceptable. In effect this process is doomed to failure.

WE can only summarize this political agenda has been orchestrated and the debate defined by WMC, Scott Walker, and others who want to " ensure Wisconsin is a national leader in job creation in the mining industry."

WE know this mentality will lead to a stampede of lobbyists who want changes in all kinds of regulations from water quality protection to the manure piles near factory farms. Regulations that govern noise pollution and particulates in the air also may well fall victim to the "jobs for generations" mentality that oozes from the statehouse.

So far the statehouse, the corporate house, the lawyers, the enviro groups, and the politicians should all be happy. The NO mine, NO changes in our mining regulations and laws position is slipping to the background. The "hailing" and "lauding" comments translate as support for kicking the doors open to start creating mischief by signaling the message that water and wilderness are actually less important than stockholders. No more mines games, NO means NO!

My Irish Grandpa McGuire passed along many words of wisdom usually with a wry smile and twinkling eyes - He mused about similarities among lobbyists and politicians - He said, In their analysis of world events, the plight of the human conditions, and the need for conservation, they both seem to follow the same rule of logic. When they need to hoodwink and convince us they are representing our best interests they explain to the masses that "if it walks like a duck, swims like a duck, and squawks like a duck, it probably ain't no pig." I said Grandpa this doesn't makes sense, he said, "Welcome to the reality of the bankers and politicians".

-- Koehn is a member of of Save the Water's Edge.