Al Gedicks: Mining moratorium law essential to protect water 11.25.12

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November 25, 2012

Mining industry lobbyists are urging the Legislature to repeal Wisconsin's landmark mining moratorium, or "prove it first" law, by pointing to the "success" of the partially-reclaimed Flambeau metallic sulfide mine in Ladysmith.

There is no scientific evidence to support such claims. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources recently completed an investigation of water quality at the Flambeau mine site and recommended that "stream C" be included on its list of "impaired waters" for 2012 for "acute aquatic toxicity" caused by copper and zinc.

Stream C will be the first surface water in Wisconsin to be listed as impaired specifically for acute copper toxicity and only the fifth to be listed for acute zinc toxicity. In fact, earlier this year the DNR issued a report that directly links this pollution to the Flambeau mine. These illegal discharges of toxic metals are why Judge Barbara Crabb recently found Flambeau Mining Co. had violated the Clean Water Act.

If the mining industry can't help polluting the water at one of the smallest metallic sulfide mines in the state, why should we trust them to do things differently at the far larger mines being proposed in the Penokee Hills and in Marathon and Taylor counties?

The mining moratorium law must be kept in place if we are serious about protecting public rights to clean water.

Al Gedicks, La Crosse, executive secretary, Wisconsin Resources Protection Council (one of the plaintiffs in the successful Clean Water Act lawsuit against the Flambeau Mining Co.)

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