Map of the proposed mine site and the affect surrounding Bad River Watershed. Map: Carl Sack
By Barbara With
As the 2013 Wisconsin legislative session opens, Wisconsin state co-chair for ALECand new Speaker of the House Robin Vos (R-63) promises to recycle last year’sdefeated mining bill as one of his first initiatives. At a press conference last week, Vos said the new bill would be 99.9% the same as the bill he and Alberta Darling (R-8) put before the Joint Finance Committee last year, which failed to pass in the Senate.
Last March, Vos and Darling offered what they considered to be a “compromise” to AB426, the original bill that, as it turned out, was written by the mining company. Vos and Darling’s “compromise” was nothing more than a few inconsequential changes to an otherwise atrocious bill that stripped all protections from the people and resources.
Rep. Robin Vos (R-ALEC) was quoted by Scott Bauer of the AP regarding the upcoming recall election: “I think they’re going to want to vote for him even knowing this guy’s a whack job.”
AB426 was the mining company’s dream, and included:
Allowing GTAC to use as much as 41 million gallons of water each day, more than the daily water use of the entire city of Madison;
Removing contested case hearings and limiting public hearings to one as opposed to three in current law;
Requiring the DNR to issue a permit for a mine’s water withdrawals even if a company can’t protect the public and the environment from damage, as long as the DNR determines that the public benefits of a mine “exceed any injury to public rights;
Violating Federal Treaty Rights and the Public Trust Doctrine, well as the historic Great Lakes Compact by allowing groundwater pumping that will cause environmental harm, among other unconscionable terms that would have destroyed the watershed in the Penokee Hills, where the mine was to be built.1
This time around, Vos openly claims that treaty rights are not an issue and that the sovereign nations of Wisconsin will not be allowed to participate in crafting the legislation that will directly affect their lives and livelihood, thereby once again violating federal law. This will subject any bill Vos and his ALEC representatives pass to years of litigation for violating Federal law.
Here’s what Mike Wiggins, Jr., Chairman of the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa had to say about Vos’ position at an event in Milwaukee earlier this week:
The various states have a unique legal relationship with each sovereign American Indian Tribal government, as affirmed and described in federal law. This relationship is set forth in the Constitution of the United States, treaties, statutes, laws and court decisions. Wisconsin Executive Order #39, issued in February 2004, affirms the government-to-government relationship between the State of Wisconsin and each American Indian Tribal government located within the State of Wisconsin.
As the new legislature under the majority of the Republicans (thanks largely to redistricting andelection fraud) begins the process of foisting the corporate mining agenda on the State of Wisconsin, Wisconsin Citizens Media Cooperative will be reviewing the results of last year’s efforts, which failed when Sen. Dale Schultz refused to lock step along with his Tea Party Republicans.
This year, it looks like deja vu all over again. Stay tuned.