Big money has been spent on legislative campaigns, and legislators from southern Wisconsin have made proposals that greatly enhance their districts at the expense of where we live. Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce has weighed in with glossy and classy very expensive brochures and GTac has paid for a slick web page designed at more expense. Proposed legislation has languished or has been keep hidden from the public’s eye since January of this year (2011). Legislation that ostensibly was written by the mining companies and probably with the help of Wisconsin Manufacturer’s and Commerce lobbyists in an effort to overturn years of regulations that provided protection for Wisconsin’s waters. From all accounts we are told this was done with the complicity of a very few legislators. The very people Wisconsin looks to for honest, transparent, and upfront public policy. As a result of the secrecy in statehouse, mining proposals are caught a haze of mistrust.
For whatever the reason good public policy, open discussion, and an honest concern for the waters of Northern Wisconsin have been ignored. Instead we have been bombarded with press releases, full page, advertisements, and a legislative process that to say the least is disgusting. The result of these shenanigans is 186 pages of new mining regulations that show an outright contempt for good government.
Hopefully the postponement of the 186 pages will end the fast track action that was scheduled for a hearing just three or four days after its release. At least a small handful of legislators actually want to give the public time to respond. Assembly Representative, Janet Bewley and and State Senator Bob Jauch,are attempting to slow down Govenor Walker and his cronie's attempts to ramrod drastic changes in public policy with little or no public input through Wiscosin's statehouse . Representaive Honadel, State Senator Zipperer and Governor Walker have apparently be sitting on this bill since January of 2011. This past few months has provided ample time for a select few politicians, lobbyists, and mining enthusiasts to review the 186-page document over and over. Ample time to prepare answers, develop talking points, and organize another media blitz once questions are presented. These folks were given the opportunity to guide, if not actually write the legislation and that was not enough – they want it passed quickly to ensure they get their way. Scott Walker proudly announced, “Wisconsin is open for business”. One now has to ask how far will he go? Apparently, the answer includes changing regulations that protect our water resources. Which is a plan from the playbook ( mine games) that was used in Illinois to change in mining regulations without public notification or hearings. The Cline Group's plan to introduce changes in mining regulations without public knowledge or input is simply an outrage. GTac spokespersons have even touted the Flambeau Mine, In Ladysmith, Wisconsin, which was recently closed as the example of good mining practices. Not so says the Wisconsin Resources Protection Council.
Changing the rules now is the mantra that emanates from the manufacturers and commerce crew especially when the statehouse is friendly to their demands. We have also heard from GTac how well their parent company, the Cline Group, has managed coal mining operations, as examples of how concerned they are for environment. This information may a somewhat one-sided, and is challenged by the Heartland Coalfield Alliance.